Harmony Thiessen, of Golden Zen, contacted me asking if I would like to collaborate on a story with her.
How can I resist someone who learned Zen from a Golden Retriever? Or has such a good story idea?
This is the story of an amazing women, who died this year at the age of 98. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times and never received it.
Her name is Irena Sendler and she was a social service worker in Nazi occupied Poland. She was directly responsible for saving the lives of 2500 Jewish children.
How she accomplished this feat is simply astounding, and reads like something out of myth or legend. But she was just ordinary person who was on a mission. Irena Sendler was a hero, but she never wanted to be called that, she said: “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory.”
Because she was a social worker, she had unlimited access to turberulosis contaminated areas. Using this freedom, she persuaded Jewish parents to let her hide her children so they wouldn’t be deported to work camps.
You can imagine that Poland was crawling with SS guards so she had to be extremely careful. She smuggled the children in ambulances (pretending they had typhus or TB), in burlap sacks – even in tool boxes and caskets. She even trained her dog to bark constantly when she was questioned by guards so the guards wouldn’t hear the children crying.
She placed the rescued children with Christian families and gave them new names and identities. But she didn’t want them to be forgotten, so she placed their real identities in a jar and buried it in her backyard under an apple tree.
When the gestapo caught up with her she was brutally tortured. They broke her legs and feet by beating her with wooden clubs. She was scheduled to be executed, but bribed a guard for her release.
When she was free she went back to the apple tree and dug up the jar, intent on piecing together again the lives of these children. She found that most of their parents had been killed at the camp at Treblinka.
The credit for getting the word out about Irena Sendler goes to a high school history teacher in Kansas. She encouraged her students to investigate an obscure clipping about Sendler. Inspired, the students just ran with it. They wrote a play, Life in a Jar, which has been performed over 250 times – first in the US, then throughout Canada and Europe.
Where once this story was rooted in darkness, it has now grown many limbs and flourishes in many forms.
The story picks up again over at Harmony Thiessen’s site, Golden Zen, on Saturday. Please drop by Harmony’s site to see what form the story will take.
Thank you very much.
Update: Harmony has had an emergency with her dog so she could not post the continuation of the story on her blog. She will get to it as soon as possible. Please send her your well wishes. Thanks for stopping by.
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