From the horrors of WWII came many examples of art by persecuted and murdered innocents, especially in the Theresienstadt ghetto and concentration camp, also called Terezín. Over 15,000 children passed through that camp and 90% of them died. A few of their poems were later found beneath floorboards and pressed into cracks in walls. One poem, “Birdsong” by an unknown child, is unique in its hopefulness:
“When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth’s aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.”
In the face of unspeakable tragedy the young poet still cradles whatever beauty or hope is near. The psalmist, too, amplifies the powerful truth that hope can still prevail despite the most severe experiences. The testimony of the young poet and the elder one claims the promise of life even in the presence of death. When atrocities occur at the hands of those who forsake God’s vision, God’s hope finds ways to persist. Whether it enters the pain of a concentration camp or a psalmist’s anguish or a crucifixion, hope is forever able to live because it belongs to God.
Sources: “Theresienstadt,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum <https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/theresienstadt>.
“Birdsong (Poem 8),” Gloria Lee, Terezin Children’s Cantata <https://www.nonduality.com/terezin8.htm>.
When have you experienced God’s persistent hope?
God, your grace makes hope possible even in times of sorrow. Through your grace, show us that persistent truth in our lives. Amen.