The Soap


In World War Two, there was a place of unthinkable evil, pain and suffering.

We know it today as the Dachau Concentration camp outside of Munich.   The suffering of that place stands as an eternal reminder of just how cruel, just how dark, and just how broken that humankind can be.

At Dachau, a Nazi medical officer took upon himself the responsibility of figuring out some way to keep the Jewish prisoners calm as they headed to the showers.     He noticed that as they stood in those ever increasing lines, they got more and more nervous. You didn’t want nervous prisoners.

As time went by, he noticed that as prisoners waited in line, the fear grew.   As the fear grew, they would revert to those things that calmed them when life was normal.   For so many of them it was song.   They would break into song, and they would find strength in their traditional hymns.

As they sang the songs, one by one they listened to the words.   When they sang others would listen too. As they listened to the words, they remembered.

They remembered the stories of their faith.   They remembered the days in slavery.   They remembered the exodus and the time spent wandering.   They remembered the times that followed where they will killed for their faith.   As they remembered, they became strong, and they stood straighter. Some fought back.

That medical officer made it his job to make the process of the showers more efficient.   As he watched the lines, and watched their responses, a light dawned for him.     The songs and their faith was the last thing they had to hold onto.   In the madness, mud, and muck of that place their faith is what they held onto.

He decided that he needed to change that.

As the prisoners arrived for their showers, each prisoner was given a bar of sweetly scented soap.   They held onto that soap.   They sniffed that soap.   For so many of those that held that soap it became more real and more present than their faith.     Instead of signing, they sniffed and waited.  Instead of remembering, they clutched that soap.   Instead of fighting, they waited.

For the cost of 50 bars of soap, and the promise of sweet scent he stole their faith.

This world will exchange the miraculous for the everyday if you are not careful.

This world will have you clutching empty promises, and with each sniff you wonder what can be. Instead of fighting we will learn to wait and to give up.

We need to be remember, and recognize.   We need to see the miracles all around us, and hold on tight.   We need to see the miracles in the darkest of our moments, the hardest of our days, the scariest of our times and not let go.   We need to see the miracles when its hard to stand and even harder to breathe.

When we do it will change everything, for each of us.

When we do, only then will we experience the promise of faith, of transformation, of a life born again

Only then will the fight be bigger than the fear.

(CCL, Photo by Madaise, 2006,

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