Beside Oneself

Some Kind of Flower, 2018
Some Other Kind of Flower, 2018

I can’t help but write about this particular day in history. I am not sure what it is about August Fourth, but so much has transpired on this date throughout the ages. Conjunctions across time.

The first thing that struck a chord with me was Anne Frank. Back in 1944, on today’s date, the Nazi Gestapo captured Anne and her family. They were staying in a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam building. She was 15 years old. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942. Two years there. They hid because they feared deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They were outed by a tip from a Dutch informer, who was never identified.

We all know her story, but it bears repeating. They were sent to a concentration camp in Holland, and later were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Anne died there after suffering under the horrible conditions of the camp. Typhus.

Another item, which is quite related: The first printing of the Zohar occurred on this date in 1583. If we are not Jewish, we may not know the Zohar. It is the foundational work in the literature of the Kabbalah. And, the Kabbalah is the writing, the commentary, on the Jewish mystical thought. There is a lot to this, but the Zohar mainly talks about the mystical aspects of the Torah (which is the five books of Moses).

The Zohar contains all sorts of writings about the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, Angels, redemption, and so much more.

This Jewish text, this Zohar, has many good and interesting considerations. I bet Anne Frank and her family were quite familiar with this.  And because of their faith in this, they were killed.

Still another item.

On this day in 1936, our good American, Jesse Owens, competed in the Summer Olympics. He won the gold medal in the long jump. This, of all things, in Berlin, Germany. Owens won four gold medals there in Nazi-ville.

Of course, this gave the ruler of Germany something to think about. Or stew on. The German Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, had this big notion of the superiority of an Aryan “master race.” He persuaded large numbers of the German population with lies and propaganda. But when a very black Jesse Owens showed his athletic superiority at the Olympics, he very clearly dispelled Hitler’s persuasions. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come in the next nine years.

Finally, in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers were found in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21. They were victims of a hate crime. One of the men was Jewish, and one was Black. The third was a white liberal. These three young guys were slaughtered by Edgar Ray Killen, an outspoken white supremacist, and part-time Baptist minister. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

So. It seems a little uncanny to me. All of this. So related, yet so distant and so far apart. These events in time, overlapping, never touching, coinciding, synchronized, distinct. Yet. All together, each alone, yet very much connected.

I wonder if such things are here to help us. To remind us. To elevate and advance our awareness. I have to think they are our reminders that we are all a part of this world. This world that is, at the same time, completely mad, and completely wonderful. A world which is occupied by hateful, mean people, and, loving, kind, and compassionate people. A planet filled with synchronicity, and contradiction.

This place. Our human condition. Our spiritual leap.
Our choice. Today.


“It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.”
― John Green


“Nothing in my life is a coincidence.”
― Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures


“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
― Anaïs Nin