24 Feb

This morning I awoke to beautiful sunshine in Vienna and about 3°C — a perfect late winter day. As always, I went out with Maylo without checking my phone. We enjoyed our walk.

Then at breakfast I checked the headlines. The NYT: Russia attacks Ukraine. ORF: Russland greift Ukraine an. Both sites with videos of the shelling. And I realize that Europe is once again at war. I think of a workshop participant on Tuesday who was joining us from Moscow and felt it necessary to emphasize that many Russians do not want war. I think of a neighbor, a student at the University of Vienna, who comes from Ukraine and whose family who is still there. I think of the wonderful members of a Ukrainian choir who passed through Vienna on their way to a church choir festival in Switzerland in the heady, hopeful days of the early 1990s. I think of a U.S. American friend’s sister who has lived in Kyiv for many years working for an organization that takes care of orphans, who has chosen to stay and continue her work. I think of them all and can hardly type this for the tears running down my face.

When I can, I will wipe my tears and will carry on — as my parents did growing up in Germany and England respectively in the Second World War and my grandparents before them in the First World War, and as so many generations have and so many people around the world throughout time. No doubt I will cry again, and wipe my tears again, and carry on again. And in the meantime I will leave sunflowers for my neighbor to let her know that someone in our house has noticed and cares, and I will donate to Caritas for humanitarian aid to the Ukraine, and I will sit and try to maintain my own peace so that I do not contribute to the violence of this world.

I have loved and tried to be guided by this quotation below from Etty Hillesum for years. Now more than ever.

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

If she could write that from the despair of a concentration camp, surely I can begin, at least begin, to do it surrounded by the beauty of a perfect late winter day in Vienna.


5 Responses to “Ukraine”

  1. Andy February 24, 2022 at 2:59 pm #

    Well written — thank you. Putting words together coherently for events like this is next to impossible for me. Your sentiments and eloquence are both appreciated!!

    • ecbinvienna February 24, 2022 at 4:19 pm #

      Thank you. Actually, I can’t claim much credit. This almost wrote itself.

  2. esauboeck February 24, 2022 at 6:21 pm #

    Thank you. We share your sorrow. All we can do is strive for our own peace, as you say.


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