Yad Vashem was one of the most powerful experiences I had in Israel during my first visit. Although I knew what to expect on my return trip, one of those expectations was that I would be a bit rattled…again. Walking through the exhibits that represent a real journey for many is difficult and convicting. So many people were involved in the Holocaust, and I explored a couple perspectives in a past post. I stepped inside and watched the footage of everyday, pre-WWII Jewish life. The footage was different this time. The caption was the same:
“Hundreds of life fragments were woven to become a human tapestry, longing for a life and a landscape that no longer exists. The Jewish world that was lost.”
I turn away from the screen and began to walk through the exhibits. The design of the building is beautiful, haunting, and intentional. It is triangular, built with a slight upward slope. So, as I stood near the beginning, I stared ahead, knowing how the journey would end: a moving record of all the names of the Jewish Holocaust victims, statements of hope and promise, and a beautiful view of God’s creation. I had a lot of steps to take between where I was and where I was headed.
As I stood between two photos of bodies piled upon each other, I heard a muffled voice and footsteps and noticed a shadow cast on the floor. I looked up. Two people walked through the top of the memorial building. They were outside, but I could see them through the glass. They were talking and laughing in the sunshine as if they were oblivious to anything below them.
I wondered, “What am I passing by?”
Who can see my shadow and hear my laughter while they suffer? I need to consider the piles of people, or even just one, who might lie beneath me…under my feet and under my smile.
People all around us have needs. We might be tempted to assess some as more serious than others, but in the process, we likely ignore what needs attention. Our assessment isn’t as accurate as God’s. We need to trust Him to guide us, help us notice people, and know how we should respond.
Connections aren’t limited to face to face encounters. Sometimes, a shadow, laugh, smile, cry, or glimpse is all it takes for one person to affect another person’s life. Look around, notice, and respond.