Monday, March 18, 2013

Kate Ann Gonta: Remembering

I remember the first night that we arrived in Poland and how Sister Mary told us that our trip would have four dimensions.  I’m glad to say that I believe I experienced all of them.  The first dimension was to be silent and listen. Listen to the earth.  As we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau, I definitely felt and heard the earth.  The stories of suffering the ground of the camps had were overwhelming. I could hear the screams and cries of the mothers and children.  I could hear all the people asking questions and praying.  I found myself asking the questions as well.  The second dimension was to listen to the voice of our own hearts. Connect the memory of the past with us today.  This past week I have been trying to do this and I have to admit it has been a little challenging for me.  I still can’t wrap my head around how a tragedy like this could have happened and lasted for as long as it did.  How could humans do this to other human beings and how come no one tried to stop this until years later? And because of this I have had a little trouble connecting when I can’t even fully understand the concept.  However, all I know is that I will not be a bystander.  I will tell the stories of those lost so that they will be remembered, always. The third dimension was to listen to the voice of others. To know the facts and make connections.  This kind of ties along to the last point, I made.  I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust coming into this trip, but the truth is I learned more than I could have ever imagined.  Touring the camps was a lesson in itself.  Seeing the camps and feeling the air surrounding them made it all come to life.  Listening to stories of survivors, made it more real.  This is not something you can learn in a classroom and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust this way.  The last dimension was to listen to the voice of god.  Only then can we encounter questions and understand the Jewish/ Christian relations.  Even though I asked myself every day “Why would God let this happen?” I do believe that he was in the camps.  The stories that I heard of prisoners keeping their faith and hope alive while in the camps was so inspiring to me.  Especially the story of Maximillian Kolbe stepping up and offering his life to save another prisoners life.  All this would not have happened if God was not present in these camps.
Even though this trip was very emotional for me, I would not have traded it for the world.  I am truly blessed to have been able to go on a trip like this and I will always remember what I learned and how I felt while being in Poland. I vow to honor the innocent lives lost during the holocaust and to spread their stories.


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