David/Rooted #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

This was the tree where David and I met after school.  He was the sweetest boy I ever knew and I always imagined that one day we would get married and have lots of children.  It never occurred to me that laws would soon be put in place to make relationships such as ours illegal.

As soon as school was let out, I ran to the tree and he would be waiting for me.  He was so tall and handsome with thick black hair and gentle brown eyes.  We would hold hands and kiss but that was as far as things went.  We would sit under the tree and talk for hours.  Parting from him was always hard.  I always willed the hours because I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Then one day, I showed up and for the first time he wasn’t there.  I waited for hours but he never came.  I was understandably frantic.  After several days went by and still no sign of him,  I decided to go by his father’s shop and was appalled to see the word, “Jude” painted across the window and the star of David.  The shop was empty.  I ran home and asked my father what had happened to David.  My father sat me down and explained to me that the Germans had moved the Jews to the Ghetto.  I learned that they were banned from from entering certain streets, squares, parks, woods and other public places.  That meant that David and I couldn’t meet by the tree anymore.  It was in the woods.  David couldn’t go to my brother’s school any more.

After my father finished telling me everything he knew, I went to my room where I cried and cried.  David who was forced to live like an animal because of deeply rooted hatred.  My world had become a dark and ugly place of intolerance and ignorance.  I wanted so desperately to see him but it was out of the question.  My father told me it was best to forget about David.  There was no future for us.  He was a Jew.

I knew that I would never forget David.  I loved him.  He was my first and only love.  And I never gave up hope that we would be together again–not even when I learned that the Jews had been deported to concentration camps.  No one was willing to take them in and for some Jews, going into hiding would break up their families and that was unthinkable, especially those who with children.

The years went by, the war raged on and I became a nurse.   My father died of a heart-attack a couple of days after his fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Only my mother and I were left.  My brother was killed years ago after he was arrested for being a part of a  resistance movement against the Nazi Regime.  My parents were devastated but I was proud of him for fighting against evil.  I only wish I had the guts to do something too.  Instead I prayed that David and his family would somehow survive and that when the war was over I would see him again.

Well, the war is over and I’m the only surviving member of my family.  My mother died from a stroke a month ago.  I buried her next to my father.

Tomorrow is my birthday but I have no one special to celebrate it with.  It’s a nice afternoon so I decided to go for a walk in the park.  I head straight for the tree.  A man stood there with his back to me.  He was wearing a hat and a trench coat.  Something about him looked familiar.  My heart began to beat faster.  I could feel the color drain from my cheeks.  “David?” My voice was barely above a whisper and yet he heard me.

He turned around slowly.  “Ingrid.” He removed his hat and stepped forward.

“David!” I cried again and then we were in each other’s arms, laughing, crying and kissing.  I don’t know how long we did that and I didn’t care. All I knew was that David, my David was alive.  He had survived the ghetto, the camp and the war.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rooted at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Holocaust EncyclopediaOxford AcademicHolocaust 

Redeemed

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Mark 15:34

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When Jesus was on the cross, He was mocked.  Those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”  The religious leaders joined in the ridicule as well, saying, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”  It must have been painful for Jesus to hear them say those things.  These were the same people of whom Jesus asked of God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

They had no idea of what was really at stake.  They were mocking Jesus about not saving Himself not realizing that wasn’t His purpose at all.  As He pointed out at the time of His arrest, if He wanted to spare Himself the agony of the Cross, “…do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:53, 54). 

Had Jesus come down from the cross to save Himself, we would all be lost and eternally separated from God.  Love for the Father and us kept Jesus on that cross.  He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.  He was the Savior of the world.  God sent Him to die in our stead so that we could have everlasting life.  John 3:16 puts it so beautifully, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When God sent Jesus into the world, it wasn’t to condemn the world but to save it through Him (Verse 17, NKJV).  The cross is our salvation and evidence of God’s incredible love for us. 

As much as it pains me to see Jesus hanging from the cross whenever I watch a biblical movie about His life, it reminds me of what Jesus said to Nicodemus.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Verses 14 & 15). 

Sin separates us from God.  When Jesus was on the cross, bearing our sins, He was separated from the Father.  That was why He cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).  Jesus became the Sin-bearer and it was that sin that the Father condemned.  Jesus was forsaken for our sake so that we would be forgiven for our sins once we accept His atoning work on the cross.

How terrible it is to be separated from our heavenly Father.  This sobering thought should motivate us not to live any longer like other people in the world do but to live as Jesus did–in loving obedience to the Father.  He was obedient even on to death.

Jesus laid down His life for us to show His love.  How can we return this love?  We do so by obeying Him and having faith in Him.  Today and everyday, let us live our lives for the One who willingly went to and stayed on that cross so that He could redeem us to God by His blood (Revelation 5:9).  Our redemption came a great cost (1 peter 1:18-19).

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed thro’ His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am – Hymn #338

Balance for Better

womens day and gender equality concepts

I’m ashamed to say that I completely forgot that today is International Women’s Day.  There was a time when I was on top of these important days/events.  I’m grateful to my son for reminding me this morning.  He came into the kitchen and wished me a “Happy International Women’s Day”.  I was surprised that he knew about it and asked him if his teacher had mentioned it.  He told me that he saw it on the computer.

This year’s theme is BalanceforBetter which is a call to action for driving gender balance across the world. Women have come a long way but we still have some distance to go.  The best way to achieve greater gender equality is through challenging bias and celebrating women’s achievements.  According to International Women’s Day website, “the race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage.” 

International Women’s Day isn’t just a day for celebration but a call to action for women and men to push for complete gender equality because “gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive”.  Gender equality benefits everyone.

A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?  Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality – International Women’s Day

Sources:  IWD; Global News; NBC News; The Sun;

 

Rashida’s World/Timeless #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

 

She ran to the stone.  It was her escape from her world.  She always made sure she was alone before she clung to its sides, said the words and was transported to another world—a world where slavery didn’t exist.  One of these days, she would remain there and never return to her life as a slave.

The coast was clear.  She held on to the sides, recited the words and poof…she was gone.

When she reached the other side, it was in a wide, open field with wild flowers, their sweet scent filling her senses.  She laughed and ran among them, stopping to pick some until she had a bouquet.  She twirled around like a ballerina, her long skirt bustling about her ankles, the sunshine warming her face.  Giddy, she dropped to the ground.  She lay on her back in the emerald green grass, staring up at the sky.  Yes, one of these days, she was going to leave her other life for good.

Suddenly a figure materialized in front of her.  She sat up, shocked and afraid.  “What-what are you doing here?” she asked.  How on earth did he get here and how come she didn’t see him.  She was positive that she was alone.

“I followed you,” he informed her, his blue eyes narrowing as they traveled over her.  He reached down to help her up but she pushed his hands away.

She scrambled to her feet, her heart pounding.  This was all wrong, she thought in desperation.  He wasn’t supposed to be here.  “You don’t belong here,” she told him.  “In this world there’s no hate or whippings or slave or master…”

“That kind of world doesn’t exist,” was his harsh reply.  “It only exists in your pretty little head.  And no world can keep me from finding you.  Face it, Rashida, there’s no escape from me.  You belong to me.  The sooner you accept that, the better it will be for you.”

“No!” she cried.  “I belong to no one, especially not to you.  I hate you.  You are a wicked and cruel man.  I would rather die than be with you.”

His face hardened and reaching out, he caught hold of her wrist, his grip tightening as she struggled.  “You belong to me.  I bought you.”

“I don’t belong to you.  I belong to God.  He bought me at a price that you could never afford.”

His face suffused with color.  “I don’t want to hear any preaching from you, girl.  You’re coming back to the plantation with me now.”

“No!”  She managed to free herself from him and gathering up her skirt, she ran as fast as she could across the field.  She didn’t stop running until she was sure that he wasn’t following her.  Exhausted from running, she leaned against a tree to catch her breath.

She couldn’t go back to her old world but she couldn’t stay in this one either.  He knew where to find her.  There seemed to be no escape from him.  She meant it.  She would rather die than be with him.  She couldn’t bear the thought of him touching and kissing her.  It filled her with disgust.  Disgust at herself for wanting the man she despised.  Even as she hated when he went in onto her in the nights when everyone was asleep, she didn’t lie there like a log, wishing for it to be over.  She clung to him and gave herself to him.  In the mornings, she was filled with self-recrimination.

There was only one way out of this dreadful situation but she was a Christian.  If she took her life, she would end up in Hell. The thought of burning forever terrified her.  Dejected, she knew what she had to do.  Moving away from the tree, she returned to where she’d left him.  He was still there.  “I knew you’d come back,” he said smugly.  “You can’t run away from me, Rashida.  You belong at the plantation with me.  I’ve been good to you, haven’t I?  It was I who taught you how to read and write.”

She didn’t answer.  She let him put his arm around her shoulders and take her back to the other world where the plantation was.  Her dream of leaving it was now in vain.  She resigned herself to life as his slave and concubine.

The stone remained there, timeless and neglected.  She never went near it again.  It was pointless.

 

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Timeless at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Remington/Fragrant #writephoto

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It was a beautiful summer day.  The roses were in full bloom.  Their sweet fragrance filled the air.  Blue lavender added more color to the lush garden.  Mrs. Middleton was throwing one of her extravagant Garden parties.  Guests milled about, chattering and admiring the rows of flowers which lined each pathway.  She stood by the weeping rose which stood where the four pathways intersected.  Everyone was there by invitation only.  For her part, she was there because she worked for Emma Middleton, the hostess’s eldest daughter.  Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen Emma for a while now.  Sighing, she was starting down the path which led to the pond when she heard her named called.  She turned around.  It was Emma hurrying towards her.

“Oh, there you are,” Emma exclaimed.  “I’d been wondering where you had gone off to.  Come, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”  She grabbed her hand and hustled her over to where a tall, well-built man stood talking to a group of people.  Emma drew him away from them.  “Remington, I’d like you to meet Talisa, my assistant.”

Remington looked at Talisa.  His amber eyes studied her.  He was blown away by her eyes which were slightly slanted and the most striking features of her face.  She wasn’t a beautiful girl but she was stunning.  She looked to be in her early to mid-twenties.  Her hair was pulled back in a hairdo which didn’t quite suit her.  It seemed rather severe but the dress she wore was very flattering to her figure and her complexion.  He held out his hand.  “A pleasure to meet you, Talisa.”

She smiled as they shook hands.  “Likewise.”

Emma tucked her arm in his.  “How’s my favorite cousin?” she asked.

“Busy.  I just got back from Singapore.”

“Business or pleasure?”

“Business.”

“Hmmm.  Well, I’ll leave you to tell Talisa all about it.  Excuse me.”  And she was gone.

Remington and Talisa stood there for awkward minutes and then, he smiling apologetically, said, “You’re not obligated to hear about my trip to Singapore, you know.”

“Actually, I would like to hear about it,” she said.  He was extremely good-looking with his dark hair and amber eyes.  He looked elegant in a white silk shirt which accentuated his olive complexion and navy blue trousers.  She realized that she was staring and looked away.  “Was it your first trip to Singapore?”

“Yes, it was.”

“And how did you find it?”

“Pleasant.  The Singaporeans are generally very open but it’s best to avoid topics like religion, racial issues and politics.”

“What did you think of the women?  I read somewhere that they are ranked the 4th most beautiful in the world.”

“The ones I saw were attractive, pretty and beautiful but as far as them being the 4th most beautiful women in the world, I don’t know if I agree.”

“Sorry.  I didn’t mean to put you on a spot.”

“You didn’t.  Where are you from originally, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Luanda, Angola.  I came after high-school and came here as an international student.  I studied at the University of Brighton and after I graduated, I moved to London after applying for and getting the job with Emma.”

“How do you like working with my dear cousin?”

She smiled.  “I like it very much.  She’s a great boss and friend.”

Remington was about to ask her something when a woman’s voice exclaimed in delight, “Remy, darling!”  They both turned to see a vivacious blonde with outstretched arms and a big smile on her face.  She brushed past Talisa as if she weren’t there and wrapped her tanned arms around Remington’s neck.  The hug lasted for a few minutes and then she drew back to look up at him.  “You’re back from your trip.  Welcome back from the world’s priciest city.”

“Thank you, Evie–”

“Are you free this evening?  Please say yes.”

“Well, I am free but–”

“Good.  There’s this new Italian restaurant I’ve been dying to go to.  I have a friend of a friend who knows the manager and she could get us reservations this evening.”

“Fine.  Evie, allow me to introduce you to Talisa.”

It was the first time Evie even acknowledged that someone else was there.  Her green eyes swept over Talisa.  There was disdain in them.  Without offering her hand, she said rather grudgingly, “Hello.”

“Hello.”

“Remy darling, I’m starving.  Let’s go and see what there is to eat.”  She clutched his arm possessively as she said to Talisa, “Excuse us.”

“It was nice talking to you, Talisa,” was all he managed to say before he was hustled away.

Talisa watched him go, crestfallen.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Sources:  Denmark in Singapore;

Thinking of Her

She ran along the beach, laughing.  When she looked back and me and smiled, my heart stopped.  The sun hit her at just the right angle.  I envied it because it was caressing her face.  The hands holding the camcorder ached to hold her instead.  I forced myself to concentrate on my task.  I wanted to capture every moment.

Surrounded by sand and sea, we were in paradise.   As I watched her dancing, her arms spread out like a bird’s wings clad in that swimsuit that drove me crazy, I thought of what a lucky guy I was.

Yes, I was a lucky guy.  I married the woman of my dreams and we were blissfully happy until that day when fate intruded upon our happiness and snatched her away from me.  I sit here now on the beach, thinking of her and missing her.  It’s a grey and dismal day, reflective of how I am feeling inside.  The sea seems angry.  I close my eyes and think of that day when we were walking along the water’s edge on a beautiful beach, our future ahead of us.  Not once did it ever occur to me that a year later, she would be gone from my life forever.

Yes, fate dealt me a cruel and heavy blow which has knocked me down.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to get up again.  I can’t imagine going on without her.  She was my life, my world and now she’s gone, leaving this emptiness behind.  I don’t know how long I will sit here and listen to the waves or the cries of the seagulls.  Right now, I can’t face going back to an empty apartment.

There is no armour against fate – JAMES SHIRLEY, The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses

 

The Sunshine Comes

Do not lose hope, please believe that there are thousands of beautiful things waiting for you. Sunshine comes to all who feel rain. -R.M. Drake

After staring at her painted toenails, she finally raised her head to look up at him.  They were standing by the lake on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.  They had just gone for a bite to eat at their favorite Greek restaurant.  All during the meal, she wrestled with herself.  Should I tell him today or wait a while longer?  They had been dating for a while now and things were becoming serious between them.  He had a right to know.  If there was to be any future together, there could be no secrets between them.

“Ishmael, I have something to tell you.”

He looked a bit concerned.  “What is it?” he asked gently.

She took a deep breath.  “I suffer from bi-polar disorder.”  There, she said it.  Her heart pounded as she waited for his response.  Would he act all strange or come up with some excuse and walk away and out of her life?  It had happened before with other guys.  She hoped that he would be different.

An expression of relief came over his face.  “Is that all?” he exclaimed.  “I thought you were going to tell me that it’s over between us.”

She stared at him.  “You mean you don’t mind…?”

He shook his head.  “No.  Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of.  And it doesn’t define you.  I look at you and still see the amazing woman I fell in love with a year ago.”

Tears welled in her eyes.  “I was afraid to tell you but you had a right to know.”

He reached out and drew her closer, his thumb caressed her cheek as he rested his forehead against hers.  “You have nothing to be afraid of where I’m concerned, okay?” he assured her.

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak just then.

“I have something I need to ask you,” he said, raising his head.

She looked at him, curious.  “What is it?” she asked.

He didn’t answer right away.  Instead, he got down on one knee, fished out a little black box from his jeans pocket and holding it out for her to see as he opened it to reveal an exquisite diamond and gold ring.  “Nadya, will you marry me?”

Nadya began to cry and in between the sobs, she managed to say, “Yes!”

Grinning broadly, Ishmael slipped it on her finger, kissed it and then got to his feet.  Cupping her face between his hands, he kissed her.

She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back, her heart almost bursting.  At that moment the sun began to shine.

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January 30th is Bell Let’s Talk Day when Canadians and people around the globe join the world’s largest conversation about mental health.  The impact has been great. Overall, 87% of Canadians say they are more aware of mental health issues than they were a few years ago. Additionally, 85% think attitudes about mental health have changed for the better and 75% believe the stigma around mental illness has been reduced. The numbers are even more impressive among young people aged 18-24: 88% think attitudes are better and 77% believe stigma has been reduced – BCE

Mental illness is something that affects everyone in some fashion and there always needs to be a conversation.  I have been personally affected by it.  My sister has bipolar disorder as did two deceased cousins.  I knew two co-workers who had it as well.  Those who have it need to know that they have support.

It isn’t something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.  There is awareness and an ongoing conversation.  And most importantly, there is help.

There isn’t anybody out there who doesn’t have a mental health issue, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Having OCD is not an embarrassment anymore – for me. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek the help.” – Howie Mandel

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

“It doesn’t have to take over your life, it doesn’t have to define you as a person, it’s just important that you ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.” — Demi Lovato

Sources:  WikipediaEveryday Power

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