Chorus of the Rescued…Poem by Nelly Sachs (In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Yesterday the world observed Holocaust Remembrance Day in honor of the over 6 million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust.  It is a day of somber stillness as we consider the horrors that humanity is capable of…both those who performed the acts, those who followed the orders and those of us who stood by and watched….we all partook of that depravity, whether we care to see that or not.  All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.  In this…We truly are our brother’s keeper.

I first came across the works of Nelly Sachs last year as I studied literary works for my college English Humanities course. Nelly Sachs
As a pastoral counselor for women, as a believer in Christ, as a lover of the Jewish People and nation and most especially as a worker in social services and Christian counseling and healing, there was no other collection of words that touched me to the core than the words of Ms Sachs poem: “The Chorus of the Rescued”.

And so, it is with this in mind, that I share this poem with you.  As healers, (Christian, non-Christian, Pastors, Counselors, friends and family alike), we want desperately to make others well.  We strive to help heal those broken traumatized places. But I dare to say that Ms Nelly’s words hold a plea that our hearts need to hear as we endeavor to do our ‘good deed’ of being mr and ms fix it. For even the best of intentions can be damaging if not done with tender sensitivity and care.

If your heart is attuned to the brevity and frailty of life and the human soul, then you will clearly hear Nelly’s plea. If not, then I beg you…stop and listen. The shattered soul begs you do so.

Chorus of The Rescued by Nelly Sachs

We, the rescued

Show us your sun...but gradually. Lead us from star to star, step by step. Be gentle when you teach us to... live again.
Show us your sun…but gradually. Lead us from star to star, step by step. Be gentle when you teach us to… live again

From whose hollow bones death had begun to whittle his flutes,
And on whose sinews he had already stroked his bow—
Our bodies continue to lament
With their mutilated music.

We, the rescued,
The nooses would for our necks still dangle
Before us in the blue air—
Hourglasses still fill with our dripping blood.

We, the rescued,
The worms of fear still feed on us.
Our constellation is buried in dust.

We, the rescued,
Beg you:
Show us your sun…but gradually.
Lead us from star to star, step by step.
Be gentle when you teach us to live again.
Lest the song of a bird,
Or a pail being filled at the well,
Let our badly sealed pain burst forth again
And carry us away—
We beg you:
Do not show us an angry dog…not yet—
It could be, it could be
That we will dissolve into dust—
Dissolve into dust before your eyes.
For what binds our fabric together?
We whose breath vacated us,
Whose soul fled to Him out of that midnight
Long before our bodies were rescued
Into the arc of the moment.
We, the rescued,
We press your hand
We look into your eye—
But all that binds us together now is leave-taking.
The leave-taking in the dust
Binds us together with you.


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