It was you, grandpa; you were our teacher.
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This was my granpda’s favourite hymn. He had a beautiful singing voice, which he shared with the world at Buchenwald’s Appelplatz, over the intercom at Foodland, while holding hands at choir, or at any given opportunity.
I never heard him sing this song, though, but when I heard it — I understood.
Grandpa spent his life making people happy. He also spent his life standing up for and getting to know the little guy — the worker on the factory floor, the teller at the grocery store, the attendant on the flight, or the guide at the memorial.
When he was in Buchenwald, experiencing the absolute worst of humanity, he had his moments of doubt. How, he asked himself, could there be a God who would allow such horrors to happen?
His journey was one of rediscovery, of turning his experience into purpose.
I’m not a fervent believer in any faith, but my own journey, informed so much by his action, picks up where he leaves his off.
For me, the divine isn’t something that exists above or around us — it’s what is created between us.
For me, that presence we define as God is the whole that’s more than the sum of its parts, its what we discover and infuse when we come together.
Whether it was conscious or not, that’s what my grandpa did, his whole life.
He loved, and he was loved; he laughed, and others laughed with him.
The impact of his life was so present at his funeral, in all the tributes that came in — people from all walks of life, of different ethnicities and faiths, from near and far.
They came together in their love of this man, and this man, in his own way, brought them together.
What a wonderful gift he has given to us — not a code of conduct, but a model of a life well lived.
It was you, grandpa. And you taught that it can be any of us — we just have to open our hearts to each other.