Today has been a very emotional day. We finally arrived back in the USA last night, and by the time we got back to Terre Haute, it was around 10:45 at night, so I crashed with a friend in town since I was too tired to drive home to Morgantown. I got up early this morning and drove home, showered, and went to church. I was so thankful that today was youth Sunday! I had zero responsibilities except for being there to support them and to catch up on the congregation. During the silent prayer time and closing hymn (“How Great Thou Art”) I started to get emotional. I was sitting there thinking of everything I had heard, experienced, and saw this past week at Auschwitz, and now here I was, back home to normal life, routines, and where, for the most part, people are happy and life is good. The message this morning was about how God gives us what we need to do well in this life and to share our gifts and talents with the world and not be ashamed to do so. This message took on a new meaning for me as I sat there wondering how God was present at the camps, and I struggled to find an answer. During “How Great Thou Art,” I pondered whether or not God is truly good all the time. If so, then it is really the evilness and depravity of humanity that we need to continually examine so that atrocities such as the Holocaust never happen again.
I have literally been in a different world this past week- physically, emotionally, spiritually. Coming home to friends, family, warmth, food, sleep, the freedom to make choices in life, the gift of freedom, home, and love- all of this after being in Auschwitz and seeing literally the worst, the most evil acts that this world has ever seen. There have been several moments today where something will trigger an image from Auschwitz or an experience I had there, or a conversation that I’ve had today about the trip will cause me to break down into tears. When I was there this week, I simply took it all in- I wanted to learn, to remember, to see, to hear, to experience. I felt some emotion for sure, but not as overwhelming as it is hitting me now. I wasn’t prepared for the after effects of seeing Auschwitz for myself. Obviously, I am still processing it all. I still have some emotions to sort out, and time to settle back into everyday life, but I know that I will look at things in a very different light for awhile. It will take me awhile to feel “normal” again. I am thankful for the experiences I had, and wouldn’t trade them for anything.
The bottom line for today: never take life for granted.