Lost tears of humanity gassed away unexpectedly
Earth silent. Darkness reigns, save for insurgent acts of kindness challenging the machine.
The machine to break the will
To break the hearts
To break the soul
To break a nation
To break a covenant…
As if barbed wires and fences, trenches and latrines
Insolently thrown together through lockless, open doors
Exposed and exposing.
As if dignity lost and hair removed,
as if doubt and fear,
as if branding like a cattle,
and transportation akin to a rats cage in a primitive land
As if death and execution,
as if frozen heads and hearts and minds and electric wires
as the only way out of an organised hell
Could be the end of covenant
Or could it?
Abram’s ancient promise that the Lord would curse those who treat him with contempt… what of it?
Eight thousand SS officers and only ten small percent brought to justice,
the seven thousand two hundred escaping with the plundered wares of one million and more of Abram’s kin.
Where is the curse there?
Is covenant broken, obsolete?
had it by some ancient travesty been revoked?
Has guilt for the death of a vineyard owner’s son been visited,
as some suggest, a million fold again,
on descendants who have long forgotten
the memory of some unremembered pharisaic father’s actions?
Was Ezekiel wrong?
Are the sins of the fathers still visited on their sons?
To the thirtieth or fortieth generation or more
Is God’s Yes, and amen not worth
a gentleman’s handshake in a twentieth first century
If covenant is rescinded here,
what then of my own ‘new covenant’
bought in blood at great price?
Can that be rescinded too?
Or is God hanging on the gallows of Auschwitz, as others have claimed –
Not dead as accusers decreed but
A gallows God inhabiting each execution chamber, each lion’s den, in
a faithful servant
a prayerful soul
a pleading child
a supplicants screams…
… but not there as the angel who stood with Meshach.
Not as the lion tamer in Daniel’s tale…
Is a gallows God really any good.?
What use a gallows God who fails to rend the heavens and come down?
What use in our cancerous distress and broken lives
one who has been tempted in every way and knows…
But does not act now to save?
What use kingdom come, if kingdom is always future and rarely present
Where is God in Auschwitz… where organised hell breaks in and rapes the land he came to redeem?
Where is the judge we long for when death penalty feels too ‘humane’ (if humane is a word worthy of any meaning anymore)?
Where is God?
This series of post are poetry written at Auschwitz-Berkenau during a retreat 75 years after gas was first used in the ‘final solution’ to exterminate the Jews.
The group was led by some remarkable people, including a German RC priest, Fr Manfred who had remained there for 25+ years since writing his phD on the holocaust.
Bible reflections were given by Sam Wells and Pete Wilcox, and when poetry owes its origins to their lectures they are credited as such.