They called the country of my birth the heart of Europe. So it was.
A heart of snow-covered peaks and frozen ponds we skated on during the bitter winters.
A heart bathed in sunlight and song
and hatred of the Other so fierce no one dared to name it,
so ancient no one remembered when or why it began.
In the country of my birth I was the Other.
What is it like to be born in a land that claims you?
Is it inevitable when claiming One to exclude the Other, to make the Stranger, however welcome, still a Stranger?
Oh, your Aunt Adele, oh, how she would’ve adored you!
My father’s postwar stories told of lost love,
love swallowed whole by loathing,
the love of an aunt, two grandmothers, more cousins than I could count,
the love that should’ve been mine and was now forever gone.
But children live in possibility. For them, that which is lost is only lost until found again.
The child I once was has grown into the woman I am today.
Her faith is my faith.
I say you and I, we must set out to retrieve all that was lost and use it.
Turn grief into bricks and mortar,
build a shelter, a hate-proof earth-home with sharp objects safely out of reach of schoolboy bullies.
Build an earth-home of wisdom and kindness,
greet strangers with ripe fruit and sweet wine,
leave the doors forever unlocked,
in case the Messiah should decide Her time has come.