Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 26th November 2023

Dear Friends, In 2003 I stayed in Haarlem in the Netherlands and while I was there I visited a watchmakers shop. It has been a watchmakers for more than a Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 26th November 2023

Dear Friends,

In 2003 I stayed in Haarlem in the Netherlands and while I was there I visited a watchmakers shop. It has been a watchmakers for more than a century and it will never be anything else, as a memorial to the Ten Boom (pronounced Bome) family. They belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church which honours the Jews as God’s chosen people and Casper, the father, spent many evenings discussing the scriptures with a local rabbi.When war broke out the family helped many Jews to escape, sheltering some in a hiding place built behind a bedroom. They obtained food coupons for them and provided forged identity documents so that they could travel to safer countries.Eventually they were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo. They offered Casper freedom if he promised not to help any more Jews. He replied, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help”. When asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, “I would consider that the greatest honour that could come to my family.”His daughter, Corrie, was the only member of the family to survive the prison camps. She was released as the result of an administrative error, and spent the rest of her life preaching forgiveness. She discovered how difficult that was when a former prison guard asked her to shake hands with him – but she was able to do it.A story about her has stuck in my mind.  One day the women were made to parade naked to watch a prisoner being punished. Someone heard Corrie say “Poor woman” and realised that she was speaking not of the prisoner, but of the guard who was beating her.After centuries of oppression the Jews after the holocaust vowed ‘Never again, at any cost’ and the Arabs sought freedom and access to their ancestral lands. Both parties suffered wrongs and did wrong. As Quakers we need to understand this, but not to take sides. We can condemn actions but must never condemn people. We need to find pity and compassion for people who do dreadful things, because in a different way they are often as damaged as their victims.A Satyagrahi must never forget the distinction between evil and the evil-doer. He must not harbour ill-will or bitterness against the latter. He may not even employ needlessly offensive language against the evil person, however unrelieved his evil might be. For it should be an article of faith with every Satyagrahi that there is none so fallen in this world but can be converted by love.Mohandas Gandhi: article in Young India, 8 August 1929Quoted by John Lampen in his 1987 Swarthmore Lecture Mending Hurts David,on behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)