“WHO CAN STAND UP TO IT?”  (Rev. 6:17)

November, the month of those who have died.

In these days death is omnipresent—not in the lofty rest that often characterizes death, but in the devastating battle that takes place between embittered peoples: hatred facing hatred, revenge facing revenge.  The whole world watches with powerless rage or with powerless despair.  In such a hopeless fight, taking place before our eyes, how can you still do something to create a counterweight?

These days I have to think of individuals who in similar situations looked annihilation in the eye, and in the depths of despair created a sign of hope.  These individuals usually did not appear before the footlights.  They did their work in silence.  And if they had not left their visible footprints, they would have been long forgotten.  Such a person was Etty Hillesum during the Second World War.  She became known because of the diaries she left behind after her death.  How did she do it—creating a counterweight in a world of death and depravation?  She wrote in her diary:

“This is really our only moral task: cultivating great plains of rest in ourselves—ever more rest, so that one can emanate this rest again to others.”

Our apocalyptic time, when the old certainties are taken away from us, faces us with the question: Who can stand up to it?

This one thing we can do: “Cultivating great plains of rest in ourselves—ever more rest, so that one can emanate this rest again to others.  The more rest there is in human beings, the more rest there will also be in this excited world.” [*]

Rev. Bastiaan Baan, November 12, 2023


*] Etty Hillesum suffered and died in German concentration camps during World War II.  Her diaries were posthumously published: An Interrupted Life, the Diaries 1941-1943.

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