A Call to Prayer (Day 1 from Cleansing Thoughts)
IT HAD BEEN A LONG cold winter, and I was glad to see spring arrive with all the newness of life that it symbolizes. I remember seeing my first robin of the year, knowing the spring flowers were soon to follow. There is something peaceful about a garden; perhaps it is in the beauty of the flowers of spring or their sweet fragrance that fills the air. To me, it is the flowers of spring that bring a feeling of renewed hope and restoration. Yet as I stand here looking down at a cluster of six yellow tulips that grace my flower garden, there is no beauty to be seen, no sweet fragrance that fills the air, only a feeling of renewed hope that fills my heart. You see, they were planted as a memorial and a call to prayer.
As early as the ninth century, yellow was used as an identifying color to mark the Jewish people for discrimination. This marking system was revived when Adolf Hilter required all Greman Jews to wear a yellow star of David on September 1, 1941. In some northern Jewish communities, the tulip blooms around the time of their Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust on the twenty-seventh of the Jewish month of Nisan (March or April). Because of these two factors, six yellow tulips have come to symbolize the six million Jews that lost their lives. On a recent trip to Isreal, we made an unscheduled stop at the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. It was there in the silent halls that their symbol became my call to prayer.
The path leading up to the museum itself was called the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. This walkway is lined on all sides with row after row of trees, each one planted in remembrance of those who helped protect the Jewish people during this dark time in our history. On the grounds were several memorials depicting the artist's view of this tragic event. One was an abstract sculpture called The Scream of a Mother. I felt small in comparison as I looked upon the screaming mother holding the limp body of her child. As we entered the museum itself, silence filled the air, only broken by the gentle crying of those visiting. My heart was saddened as I looked upon the yellow Star of David and read how this mark of discrimination, which brought so much pain and death to those who wore it, was made and distributed by forced Jewish labor. The tears fell freely from my eyes as I read the accounts of those who had been held captive. I stood in awe before a mural of a dorm within the concentration camps of Europe. I can still see the faces of those within its walls. Words can not express what I saw there or the feelings I experienced, but there was one area that had such an impact on me I feel I must try.