Depth Perception

Last Tuesday we went downtown to attend a concert at Benaroya Hall, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

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The performance was called Art From Ashes, and was produced by Music of Remembrance.

I had mixed feelings about going.

It was a wet cold day in Seattle.

The city seemed dirty.

…And sad.

It would be heartbreaking to listen to works by Jewish composers whose lives and legacies were cut short at the death camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.

But the music proved more poignant than heartbreaking.

These doomed artists plumbed the depths of their despair, gleaned beauty from their cruel twisted world, and imbued their swan songs with love and longing.

Each note, each word a parting glance, a declaration of love, a prayer…

“…Tearfully stolen from the distant west, a gentle pink ray on the thin twigs, settling its quiet kiss on tiny leaves..”

As Jake Heggie wrote in his song Farewell, Auschwitz, they cast off their striped clothes and held their shaved heads high.  “The song of freedom upon our lips will never, never die.”

Ashamed and bewildered by the depths of depravity to which humankind has too often sunk, I also felt a fierce pride for its passion and courage and tenacious love of life that can raise art from the ashes.

Copyright 2015 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love.

 

The Many Degrees of Spooky

There are so many degrees of spooky.  There is silly spooky fun, much of it tasteless.

Well, actually this one tasted pretty darn good!

So did these guys, but you know what I mean.

In the real world, mildly spooky is a vicious ATM that eats your cash card five minutes after landing in a foreign land, and then being forced to use your rusty high school Spanish to try to get it back over the phone from a bank where no one speaks English.  To no avail.  The machine can smell your fear, and the voice on the other end of the line really doesn’t care.  But you know you’ll survive.

Or how about when your staircase remodel is taking far too long, and every night you build a barricade of chairs and boxes around the gaping opening, and you realize you’re telling your children, “Don’t fall in the stair hole!” as often as you’re saying, “I love you!”

We visited a 16th c. chapel in Portugal made entirely of bones. Over the doorway a sign says,”We, the bones that are here, await yours.”  That’s kind of creepy.

But, hey, it’s the bones of monks long dead at the time of construction; they wouldn’t have minded anyway.  And it did happen a long time ago.

But how’s this for scary?  This memorial reminds us that not so long ago, in our parents’ lifetime, a Holocaust happened in which, not just six million Jews were systematically slain, but blacks, homosexuals, the disabled, the mentally ill, anyone without a protector, and anyone who spoke out for them.  Still we ask ourselves, “How could that have happened?”  Or even, “How could we have allowed that to happen?”

Our country was founded on the groundbreaking principle that all men are created equal.  Many have fought and bled and died to extend that right to include all humans.  But there are legislators and candidates trying, step by step, to demote and disenfranchise homosexuals, minorities, and women.  And talk about spooky!  In our wealthy country, they want to slash humane assistance and every kind of safety net, including social security and medicare, for widows and orphans, the disabled, the elderly, the ill, and others who have no voice, no resources, and no options.  Public school funding has been cut to the bone, undermining a poor child’s means of improving his life.  Even if they have declared that corporations are people, why does a multi-billion dollar corporation like General Electric make huge profits but pay zero taxes, while real people are scraping to pay 39 percent of their income?

I’m asking myself, “How did this happen?” and “How did we allow this to happen?”

Yeah, it’s spooky, and I’m scared.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy.

For other interpretations of Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Spooky, just click here.

All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck