On November 30th, my best historical friend, Etty Hillesum, perished in Auschwitz.
If you have never made friends with someone in a book, your life is incomplete.
Etty used to say this of Rilke and now I say it of her: “[S]he inhabits my life.”
Between the ages of 27-29, Etty, a Dutch Jew, kept a diary through which she demonstrated her incredible openness to reality and profound spiritual audacity.
“Your lessons are hard, oh God, let me be your good and patient pupil. I feel that I am one of many heirs to a great spiritual heritage. I shall be its faithful guardian.” – Etty Hillesum, killed in Auschwtiz on November 30, 1943
Today I am reflecting on the transformative impact of encountering misery – past or present – to discerning one’s path in life.
Confrontations with grave moral evils and injustices can be decisive turning points in a person’s life when he or she becomes summoned to personal responsibility with a sense of mission.