via Daily Prompt: Brave
Roman Catholic (Franciscan) priest Maximillian Kolbe, born in Poland in 1894, and following taking his final vows in 1918, was ordained a priest, and in the 1930s he served in both China, and then Japan where he helped establish a Franciscan monastry. He returned to Poland in 1936. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland and occupied it. Kolbe refused to sign papers that would have granted him immunity as he was of German origin. He was, as were many Polish people, arrested. He was later released and allowed to return to work at the monastery where he managed large numbers of refugees, hiding and helping relocate many Jewish people, and writing anti-nazi propaganda. Eventually he came to the attention of the Gestapo and was arrested and imprisoned, eventually ending up in Auschwitz. He was regularly beaten and treated appalingly by the camp guards. In this he was no different to many inmates of Auschwitz. Where I think Kolbe defines what it is to be brave is where he one day stood in another person’s shoes.
At some point there was an escape from the camp, and the commandant ordered reprisals from among the prisoners. Ten were to be chosen at random. One young man cried out that he had a wife and children. Kolbe asked to stand in his place, and the commandant accepted his offer. The commandant ordered that the ten prisoners be starved to death in a cell, and as eye witnesses testified later, Kolbe was the last to die, and with dignity and calm.
I don’t know how you stand in the place of death for another, but Kolbe did. I have stood inside his cell at Auschwitz, an eerie place, and felt that a light had shone briefly here, that one person had been a beacon of hope for humanity in the midst of evil. For me Kolbe personifies what it is to be brave. He was powerless, yet he used his gift of life powerfully.
Circles are in every aspect of life, from pratical wheels, to notions of the family circle, to schemas of life itself, the unbroken circle of love is one of those. The labyrinth is, for me, a special type of circle (and although not all labyrinths are circles, most are), it is a place to be still while yet moving, to be meditative, mindful, centered. I can be lost in a labyrinth without losing my way, and I leave things behind in the center if I want to or need to.
The labyrinth is also an ancient circle, an ancient wisdom (back to the Minoan civilization, and across other cultures on every continent) which doesn’t so much speak to me directly, but as through patient ferment, through the rhythm of our shared path. And it is a circle of life in that it breathes life through that rhythm, the movement is crucial, and so is stopping and pausing at the turns, and waiting in the center.
Sometimes I am on this journey alone, sometimes I encounter others along the way.
This circle is a friend, a real friend who holds a space for me and yet challenges too.
via Daily Prompt: Mighty
In Noongar culture Waugyl (there at least eight variant spellings of Waugyl) is the mighty creator serpent, a rainbow serpent:
You came, Warrgul,
With a flash of fire and a thunder roar, and
As you came, you flung the earth up to the sky,
You formed the mountain ranges and the undulating plains.
You made a home for me
On Kargattup and Karta Koomba,
You made the beeyol beeyol, the wide clear river,
As you travelled onward to the sea.
And as you went into the sunset,
Two rocks you left to mark your passing,
To tell of your returning
And our affinity (the poet, the late Dr. Jack Davis: from his play – Kullark, 1982)
For more on Noongar culture go to: https://www.noongarculture.org.au/spirituality/
The story in the photo tells of the work of Waugyl creating the Collie and the Preston River systems. The story goes with a sculpture of Waugyl in the town of Donnybrook. It is a wonderful story of creation spirituality. In order to preserve nature, Waugyl must never be disturbed (endangered or angered) otherwise nature will deteriorate and balance will be lost. This is a story for today and our urgent need to act to protect the environment.