(Trigger warning – this story includes facts about the Holocaust)

My father once took us to a place where evil had transpired. The smell of it lingered but sensing the precise odor really depended on a spiritual mindset.

To those in a self centered place, the odor may have come only in a quick waft – serving as encouragement to simply move along and move on.

To those in denial, the odor was likely very faint, if it could be sensed at all.

And to those without a sense of justice, it likely took energy to suppress it, meaning that the context was lost and the contrasting beauty surrounding that place could not speak of the ugliness it had witnessed.

Likely we are one or more than one of these things – self-centered, in denial or without a sense of justice – at any given time. Being in a state unawareness reinforces these states.

My father took us, my mother, my brother and myself, to Budapest and the place where one of many Nazi crimes had occurred in WWII.

This is an art installation found on the Pest side of Budapest, Hungary. It commemorates the scene where Jews were lined up, forced to remove their shoes, shot and thrown into the river.

For those who have been silenced from sharing the truth that lies within them, the heavy odor of that place lies within them everywhere they go. They can smell it, even before they arrive.

I get the sense today that my father was no longer really able to carry the stench. He lived just a few blocks from this very place before he and my grandparents fled Hungary – my grandfather narrowly escaping being sent to a death camp.

The greatest injustice that we who are fortunate to not have to carry those and other smells that linger from other places of evil can do is to believe in a lie that is being perpetrated by our public discourse in our supposedly great democracies – the lie that says Divided We Stand.

To be told to “be quiet” and bear the lingering effects of evil is never a cross we should ever expect anyone to bear. Instead, we create space for each other to lay our burdens down and make room for each others’ stories.

I don’t think I need to draw a you a picture. The winds of left vs right, snowflakes vs rednecks, I’m right vs you’re wrong are picking up in Canada as we speak. You know it and I know it. So we need not say much more.

The question is what to do about it.

Here’s my two cents worth to the church.
Perhaps Remembrance Day within our walls could be spent doing two things (I should say at least two – I am sure there are others).

One – to take the time to listen to the story of someone “who has been there” and to offer our gratitude to them for their courage in sharing it.
Two – to intentionally ask ourselves to what extent we are by-passing a necessary balance in our relationships, one that permits everybody to be heard equally – with patience, thoughtfulness and grace. And if you are certain that you’re already on the “right side” of this second one, likely you’ve already gone too fast.

There can never be justice without these two things.

Sit with that one.

And consider yourself invited to Carleton Memorial on Sunday where we will hear a story on the topic of gratitude for the service of others from the perspective of post WWII child of a military officer.

Be Blessed. Be a blessing.

Rev. Eric Lukacs