Bells Over Auschwitz
“The place of prayer is a precious habitation, for I now saw that the prayers of the saints was a precious incense…I saw this habitation to be safe – to be inwardly quiet when there was great stirrings and commotion in the world.” John Woolman. Journal, 1770.
At night they could hear them,
the bells from a nearby convent
calling the nuns to prayer.
The prisoners heard them in their bunks,
naked to hinder their escape,
crammed together to avoid freezing.
Were the nuns singing Vespers
in Gregorian Chant
whose God is compassionate and close?
Were they singing the songs of Hildegard of Bingen
in lofty soprano voices
soaring to the heights,
reaching the sublime?
Would supplications from the singers
elicit miracles from God?
There were some.
And in that horrendous place
prisoners learned lessons
lost to philosophers:
that without morality people are dangerous,
that friendship can defeat terror,
that love delivers us from evil.
With what equanimity did God
hear the songs and see the sleepers?
God`s present is wider than ours:
what we wait for the future to see,
He sees now:
the jailers, after death, in the company
they had freely chosen,
suffering from it;
the singers raised to a higher state.
Freedom and its consequences
in a tapestry of love made just.
Reg Naulty, Canberra Regional Meeting.