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Friday, February 20, 2009
The Healing Power of Words
On Sunday, February 15, 2009, a day after Valentine's Day Miep Gies, the last living survivor, one of Anne Frank's "helpers" when she and her family were in hiding turned 100 years old. This extraordinary woman, who helped provide food and books for the Frank family as they hid celebrated her special day with her son and three grandchildren.
Though Miep humbly denies making a great difference it was she whom gathered up Anne's scattered papers and notebooks after the "hiding place" was raided in 1944. She hid the writings in a desk drawer for safe keeping until Anne's return. After Anne's death Miep gave the collection to Anne's father Otto, who published it in 1947. It became "The Diary of Anne Frank."
These seemingly simple pages written by a young girl survived beyond the horrors of the holocaust becoming a best seller, selling millions of copies and inspiring millions of people. Though her words did not erase the evil actions of the Nazis it did encourage those who survived. Thanks to the courage of one woman a young girl's journal by the name "Kitty" became a light in the midst of a devastating time. Years later Miep protected Anne's writings by defending its validity from those who accused it of forgery. She also answered letters sent from around the world from those who were inspired by Anne's writings.
I remember reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" in high school not wanting to put the book down. Though the writings originated from the hands of a girl who barely reached puberty and never saw womanhood there is wisdom, and an innocence and beauty about it. I remember wishing that my journals would one day be read by someone and I often wrote entries with an invisible audience in mind. I must admit that I still do this at times.
It's amazing what words can do. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, that "the tongue holds the power of life and death." Anne's words were a source of hope and healing for many. I recently came across a quote from the film, "Schindler's List," which I found parallel to this notion. "There will be generations because of what you did." Hitler birthed death with his words Anne sowed life with her journals. Our words and actions breed destinies. What kind of legacy are you leaving behind with your words? May the words you speak or write inspire hope like Anne's in a dark and scary world. This is a prayer for me as well.