There is a two-inch hoar frost of lacy ice coating every reaching limb in the woods the morning The Farmer and I sit and watch the Forger again.
There are gauzy grey clouds listing low on the edge of the fields — like the woods exhaled, relieved.
The Forger is 91 in the documentary.
You can see him on the screen: His long white hair is it’s own cloud of mystery, of secrets of his own.
As a young kid, working at dye shop, the man who, yeah, eventually became known as the Forger, became obsessed with the chemistry of colorants, inks, dyes. Soon his entire life was one of ink and papers and secrets, of forging food ration papers for Jewish children, creating passports to save families during World War II.
His voice quavers now as he talks from behind the haze of his white beard: “Keep awake… Struggle against sleep. The calculation is easy. In one hour, I make 30 false papers. If I sleep one hour, 30 people will die.”
Keep awake. Struggle against sleep.
During World War II, the Forger, who took not one penny for his efforts, saved more than 14,000 lives.
Something’s burning in my throat.
“All humans are equal, whatever their origins, their beliefs, their skin color,” his voice cracks. “There are no superiors, no inferiors. That is not acceptable for me.”
In that moment, I thought he had said everything.
All humans are equal — because all are equally made by God.
“The whole concept of the Imago Dei…the ‘Image of God’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected…This gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity.
And we must never forget this…there are no gradations in the Image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the Image of God. One day we will learn that.
We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.”
We will never reflect the image of Christ to the world — unless we see the image of God in everyone.
We’re created to only be truly strong, when we all live like we all belong.
It was the moment after that though, after he said that — that everything rent open.
The Forger who spent his life giving, so that others might have life, he looked past everything, seemed to say it to everyone, to the universe, to himself:
“If I hadn’t been able to do anything — I wouldn’t have been able to bear it.”
If I hadn’t been able to do something to help bear other’s burdens — I wouldn’t have been able to bear living.
Unless we battle injustice, stand for the outsider, the oppressed, imagine ourselves in the place of the displaced, risk our lives so others can have life, we can’t genuinely bear any of the grace in our own lives — because the grace we’ve been given, is always meant to be given.
Unless you give forward the grace you’ve been given — you won’t be able to bear the grace of your own life.
You won’t be able to bear the grace of your own life, unless you come bearing grace and hope and justice and kindness and life and joy to everyone in your life.Your life breaks in the deepest ways — unless you lighten your soul by giving forward some of the grace you’ve been given to lighten someone else’s load.
Keep awake. Struggle against sleep, against distraction, against apathy, despair, privilege, cynicism, indifference.
The woods, the beckoning fields, the world, doesn’t stop ringing with the words of Martin Luther King, whose words but echo the King of Kings:
“Life’s most urgent and persistent question is, “What are you doing for others?” ”
And there’s an answer that lives cruciform, broken and given like bread, a broken way forward through brokenness, that gives grace forward, that gives forward, that chooses to make it’s life about being a gift, that moves dreams and hopes and wholeness forward.
The world can transition this week, new seasons can be inaugurated, and in the midst of deep brokenness across a struggling, warring, hurting world, there are truths that run deeper and more certain than those of the whole rooted woods:
We won’t be able to really bear living — unless we really bear each other’s burdens.
At the edge of the woods, you could see the low-laying clouds rising — always rising — the winter frost breaking off the reaching limbs with this determined, lifting grace.
The unexpected, life-transforming revolution of everything, when we took The Broken Way & dared to live cruciform:
This one’s for the brave, who want to live like bread, broken & given, so they taste the most fulfilling feast…