Friday, April 16, 2010

Sarajevo 04: Stones and flowers

While we were at the Jewish Cemetery, I felt very quiet and introspective. That so many graves had been desecrated assaulted my sensibilities and burdened my spirit. I tried to pay attention as best I could to my surroundings, since paying attention represents spiritual growth for an alcoholic of my type. Perhaps being in the midst of a group of people the previous night who seemed to be working diligently to avoid paying attention (something I did often and well, more than 30 years ago) heightened my sense of urgency to notice all that I could around me.

After the initial shock of disgust and sadness at seeing the damage done to that burial ground, I began to notice a few spring flowers blooming amidst the rubble and ruins. Especially in that place where some people must have been determined to try to prevent others from resting in peace, the flowers bespoke new life and new hope. It seemed as if the earth itself were attempting some measure of healing of the still-raw, though fading, wounds all around me.

The damage from small-arms fire clearly mars the grave marker in the photograph above. Just imagine if this were the place where you'd buried one of your loved ones!

I noticed this grave because the surname is a name that surprised me.

The keystone on the main arch of the gate leading into the cemetery has the year 5682 inscribed into it. I believe that represents the year 1921 of the Common Era.

Let's hope that these small flowers portend new life for the whole of the Balkans.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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