Saturday, October 07, 2006

Giving Thanks

This being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada my good friend Dan Wilt is one thing I'm giving thanks for. He's posted a sneak peek to the talk he's preparing for church tomorrow.

I promise I'll post the link here when they upload it - but here is some of the beauty:
“Sweet flower” is what her name means. Grandma also told us it was the name of an ancient Armenian princess. Grandma’s first name was Siranouche. My wife’s middle name is Siranouche. My daughter’s middle name is Siranouche. “Sweet flower.” So appropriate in each life it adorns.

As my children encircled her feet, Grandma would tell the old stories. On one occasion, I taped an hour of those stories, and the harder questions were asked. “Grandma,” queried my daughter, “How did your mommy and daddy die?” I interrupted, telling Grandma she didn’t need to answer that question if she didn’t want to. Her response was matter-of-fact. “They must know, honey. They must know such things.”

At 95 years old, Siranouche was one of the last living survivors of the Armenian death marches under the Ottoman Turks at the turn of the 20th century. A mass genocide that the world ignored, Adolph Hitler is infamous for a statement made to a German commander: “Who remembers the Armenians; who will remember the Jews?”

Siranouche and her family lived in a small Armenian village called Orphah. She recalls the beauty that was once her family’s estate. “I remember playing among the fruit trees in the orchard,” she says with a smile. At 14, young Siranouche and her family were awakened in the middle of the night by Turkish soldiers. She, her mother and siblings stood and watched as the fathers and husbands were huddled into their small Armenian churches – which were then burned to the ground. The screams still haunted her now aged mind.

She remembers the death marches through the Syrian Desert. How her mother would spread her skirt over her five children in the desert’s cool, night air to keep them warm as they slept. She remembers the Syrian women lining the march, hoping to help save some of the children by taking them as their own. Though the youngest died along the march, Siranouche’s mother (my wife’s great grandmother) gave away the rest of her children in one day – such a horrible joy for her – to know they might live, but that she would die soon, far away from her precious jewels.

Her new Syrian family treated her well, though she was a servant. One night, she had a dream. In her dream, Jesus came to her with outstretched arms. Using no words, she could see in his eyes that everything would be alright. From that point on, she knew she worshipped a different God than those around her, and she knew that someone was taking care of her.

Despite her life of hardship, Grandma ‘Anouche was known to her family as one of the most grateful human beings they had ever known. It seemed as though every breath she took marked another moment to be celebrated. Her great pain as a young girl had taught her the “art of appreciation” – the capacity to look deep into every moment, person, place or thing she encountered, and to find something worthy of celebration.
You can read the rest of the post here: Cultivating A Grateful Heart

1 comment:

Dan Wilt said...

Heidi, you live the message I shared this morning.

Thanks for living the kind of life that illuminates (like the ancient illuminated bibles) all of our hearts with gold, images, colors and all kinds of the fanciest swirls.

You guys are a gift.