In our weekly e-newsletter, we offer a "Thought to Carry with You." The one which follows, reflecting on the legacy of Etty Hillesum, was written by Patricia for the newsletter going out right after the November 2016 U.S. presidential election.
We all have people, living or linked to us by their recorded legacies, to whom we turn in times of trouble. Few offer more sane grounding than Etty Hillesum (1914 - 1943), the Jewish writer whose intelligence and gallantry amidst Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII gives testimony to the best of the human spirit. She could be speaking for our times when she writes, "After dealing out crushing blows, history often takes the strangest of turns. Life is so odd and so surprising and so infinitely varied, and at every twist of the road the whole vista changes all of a sudden."
Fighting what can be seen in retrospect as frighteningly legitimate worries, she observes that "ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world." Those of you who have read her diaries and letters will know how tirelessly she fostered this peace, for herself and others, even in increasingly devastating conditions.
As each of us struggles these days to interpret the Serenity Prayer for ourselves — to find the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference — let us draw around us as a cloak of protection the company of great souls like Etty who have kept God safe within them. May we, too, listen with infinite care for what it is we are called to do now and in each moment to come for the sake of mercy, peace, and love.
Your Spirituality & Practice Team
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Patricia Campbell Carlson