A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || August 20, 2011 || 2:56 pm

Somewhere in the neighborhood of two weeks ago I pinned a photo to one of my Pinterest boards (the one entitled ‘loud as words’, where I post up images that are striking or powerful to me). It was this one, an AP file photo shot by Al Steinkopf on 20 December 1940.

eva and the others

The faces it depicts are those of Jewish children living, at that time, in a Polish ghetto (one in Szydlowiec, to be exact) under Nazi occupation.

A few days later I got an e-mail from one of my beloveds, a pocket person from way, waaaay back:

The girl, the defiant girl in the center, slightly unfocused…

She is the maternal grand aunt of my biological father.  She is related to me and to him because she was defiant.  She stayed in Nazi occupied Poland and helped Jews escape until she was captured in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. She worked with Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter, until her death.

She was the only member of his family that gave a damn about us after he died.  I think I get my devotion from her.

I have dim memories of her.

And her chicken soup recipe.

Her name was Eva. The photograph had struck me, but now –in a very real way– I am connected to one of its subjects.

But yep that’s her.  It makes me wonder how many quiet legends are also a nurturing figure in some boy’s room, adjusting his blanket as he stirred in sleep.  Just a sense of some indomitable Spirit passing through his life.

That that Spirit may have touched your life is frankly mind blowing.  As in physics and metaphysics I can’t comprehend were messing around with us.

And I know it is because I know you, but I would bet real money that she was the one that you identified with.  Visually she’s in position to be seen first, but I think she would be seen even if she was obscured by another child.

I’m about to set sail some experiments in my life. One of them involves telling a big story and a central character to that story is your basic snapshot; it has the feel of a good idea’s infrastructure….but we’ll see.  Another of them involves the realtime recounting of history in a vibrant and personal way. Something akin to a voyeurnal, but more exacting and more moving. In time I’ll be inviting all of you to come with me, some in more hands-on ways than others.

The longer I live, the more purposeful ‘accidental’ connections seem to become, and they leap out at me more often. I’m there, part of you, and you’re here, part of me. It’s messy and painful and sexy and expansively, terrifyingly wonderful. Take my hand. Let’s go look for the dots so that we can link them up. Then let’s tell everybody who’s not paying attention aaaalllll about them. Let’s feed them Eva’s chicken soup; it’s seasoned with defiance and care.

Let’s be seen even in obscurity.

18 worked it out »

  1. slouchy 8.20.2011

    What an amazing photo, and story — gave me chills.


  2. Jett Superior 8.20.2011

    I have been, thankfully, privy to many of these chill-provoking moments in my life.

    Kinda really cool, if you ask me.

  3. Dawn B 8.20.2011

    Amazing is right!

    Let’s be seen even in obscurity. Yes.

  4. Cheryl 8.21.2011

    I don’t believe in coincidences.

    This is my spirituality writ large. Times quintinnial.

  5. MidLyfeMama 8.21.2011

    The universe is awesome. Looking forward to what is to come.

  6. Jess 8.21.2011

    “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

    I like you when you’re Walrusy. ;)

  7. Jett Superior 8.21.2011

    Pretty crazy for a girl who was raised up Southerin Babdiss, huh?

  8. Deb Rox 8.21.2011

    Your new project is sanctified. My, my.

  9. René 8.22.2011

    I cannot say how much I love this. Sanctified, indeed.

  10. EarnestGirl 8.24.2011

    Nodding over what Deb said. Over your last paragraph. Over all of this accidental-but-maybe-not beauty. Go Jett Go.

    (also, I am tired and not sure I can clearly connect the dots right now, but I very recently pulled something out, a scrap, a bit of writing as a touchstone for this very kind of paying attention. I’m going to find it for you. Soon. When the time comes.)

  11. Jett Superior 8.24.2011

    Well. If there is one thing I know for a fact about you it’s that you are super-good at sussing out when the time comes.

  12. anymommy 8.28.2011

    I’m with Cheryl, something in the universe strives toward this kind of order, for patterns in the seemingly random. Call it a force for good because why not?

    I’ve been to the remnants of the ghettos in Poland. Haunting.

  13. leel 9.2.2011

    i want to hold hands, eat soup and tell stories around the fire too. nothing is random. and that story was beautiful, on so many levels. wow. thanks for sharing!

  14. s. 9.3.2011

    Eva’s Chicken Soup (it really is this simple)

    1 (3 pound) whole chicken
    4 carrots, halved
    4 stalks celery, halved
    1 large onion, halved
    water to cover
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (optional) — ( this is if you’re too squeamish to make real stock)
    1 clove garlic, minced, reduce in 1/4 tbsp butter

    1. Put the chicken, carrots, celery and onion in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken meat falls off of the bones (skim off foam every so often).

    2. Take everything out of the pot. Strain the broth. Pick the meat off of the bones and chop the carrots, celery and onion. Season the broth with salt, pepper and chicken bouillon to taste, if desired. Return the chicken, carrots, celery and onion to the pot, stir together, and serve.

    3.(really, it is better to make stock from a chicken, but a lot of people are squeamish about this and this is the more accessible of Aunt Eva’s recipes. Matzo balls are optional. She used noodles, too.

    When fed to a sick person, one should add the juice of one half of one lemon and a pinch of the notion that the human spirit can conquer Auswitz and anything else thrown at it.

    Rene… yes. Sanctified. Eva taught me to be human. Eva taught me love. She taught me love because she chose not to hate those who tortured her. She taught me love because she chose to life.

  15. ohjennymae 9.13.2011

    i’ve kept this here in my reader so’s i could say: i’ve spent too many times thanking my lucky stars that my jewish kids were born when and where they were. my sweet lady-baby twins…ugh. i just can’t even think about the monsters i get in my head there.

    so profound that you have found a connection. go-go-gadget-jett

  16. Elly Lou 9.19.2011

    How did I miss this post? Apparently I’m sucking at more than twitter these days. But this? Devoid of suck. All magic. And exactly what I needed today. Thanks. Oodles. Truly.

  17. Ann 9.19.2011

    Wow. I can’t say more words than that right now. They’re stuck in a huge ball of tears in my chest.

  18. Amanda 9.23.2011

    Wow, but this lit something in me. Incredible.


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