Thursday, August 20, 2009
Can you count on your allies?
The last days of August, 1939 were gloriously bright and sunny. The always fashion-forward women of Warsaw were home from summer holidays with the latest Paris couture. The streets were filled with color, smiley, kissy greetings, gossipy conversations. But. But. Looming just over the horizon, an ugly storm was brewing. An undercurrent of fear and impending doom frazzled nerves from Gdansk in the north to the Czech border in the south. And most especially along the western frontier with Germany. Hitler had already claimed the Sudatenland. Furious conversations flew across the continent, attempting to stave off the impending war. There were signs. Signs pointing to trouble. Disaster. But what could you do? Do what you could. That's all. Poland was counting on England and France. They had signed treaties, promising to come to the aid of the Polish nation in the event of a Nazi attack. Would this be enough to intimidate Hitler? Now, please. Don't ever misunderstand me to equate the magnitude of evil events in Poland, especially during the War, with the experience I had while a pastor here in Littleton. I only seek to make some extrapolations in order to help me, and perhaps help you, make some sense of basic human behaviors and events. Having said that.... It was gloriously sunny and bright here in the last days of August, ten years ago, 1999, as I prepared to move my family and to take up the responsibilities of serving as pastor of a local Lutheran church. No Parisienne fashions for us but we all had new clothes. I bulked up on clergy collars and skirts that work with black shirts. The girls prepared for a new school year, and a move. Dave started packing away his suits and ties, preparing for a more casual lifestyle. There would be hikes and trips to see golden hillsides of aspen, easy visits with extended family. But. But. There were signs. Not far over the horizon were disturbing signs of trouble. The allies I had to depend upon, colleagues in the regional offices of the church, were evasive, not altogether forthcoming, or even honest. It was worrisome. But I held off judging, and hoped for the best. Frankly, I hoped I was misinterpreting or misreading what I heard. What could I do? Be wise. Be open. Be careful. I did what I could do. I had promises, assurances of support. The question was, could I count on these allies? I believed I could. I believed them, believed in them. With all my heart, all my might. Poland learned in the long, awful month of September, 1939, that England and France were not jumping to their defense. It was disaster. I learned a little later that my allies would betray me. It was disaster. Devastating. Poland's allies came late to the war but they did come. And, while the alliance was fraught with difficulties for the duration of the war, they did work together. I wish to heaven I could say the same about the situation here. Not only for my sake, and my family's, but especially for the sake of God's work in the world.