Bearing Witness

An interview on the Today program on BBC Radio 4 caught my attention this morning. I was spell bound not so very much for what was said, although moving, but what was being expressed behind the words. Oh and the softness and caring in the interviewer’s (John Humphrys) voice was very moving, because he was clearly moved. Here is the gist of what the piece was about:

It is Holocaust Day on Sunday and Prisoner A26188, a BBC1 documentary being shown on Sunday, tells the story of a young Polish girl Henia who survived four concentration camps and the death march and went on to bear witness to the creation of Israel in 1948. Henia Bryer reflects on how do you live with the memory of such horrors, and how important is it to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

To listen to the BBC Radio 4 interview follow the link above and move the audio slider to 2.09.54 for the interview starting place. I’ll be watching Prisoner A26188 on Sunday night on BBC 1 at 10.25, if at all possible. I’m sorry readers outside of Britain will not be able to access the interview or the film but no doubt the film will make the rounds internationally.

I am thinking of the bearing witness in the context of religious practice. Specifically to speak or write or otherwise express one’s faith about how that has made a difference to being with a difficult life circumstance. Adrienne Hodges, who is in training for the walk along the Prembrokeshire cost in April/May, bore witness in such a way in an article posted on Jade Mountains yesterday. Reflective Practice In Action – On Foot – In Derbyshire. The piece has been well received and one specific clause caught the eye of at least 2 readers. Adrienne was trying to put into words how she was feeling at a certain point where she ponders on her father’s dying process, which was intense. And concluded thus: (I’m) not sure I can put it into words, not sure I want to pin it down in words.

And that was what was coming through the interview this morning with Henia Bryer. That which resists the application of words, and still we attempt to bare witness to our faith in action. Because? I think because of the huge gratitude that comes as a consequence of our sincere practice. It’s realized that Buddhist training is a gift.  In a certain way Henia Bryer was expressing gratitude, even in the face of THE most horrendous circumstances of her early life. The gift comes into our hands when they are open.

2 thoughts on “Bearing Witness

  1. “…not sure I can put it into words, not sure I want to pin it down in words

    This is often my situation after reading articles on here and Jade. I feel I want to make a comment along the lines of “yes” or “how true” but words are often rather inadequate.


    • Thanks Norman. We do our best even when lost for words. Thank you, as always, for doing your level best.

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