The chestnut blossom God
Victor Frankl tells the story of a young Jewish woman who was with him in a concentration camp.
“This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her, she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge.
“I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard’, she told me. âIn my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously’.
Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, “This tree is the only friend I have in my loneliness’.
Through that window she could just see one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch there were two blossoms. “I often talk to the tree’, she said to me.
I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously, I asked her if the tree replied.
“What did it say to you?’
She answered. “It said to me. I am here, I am life, eternal life’.”
It is a strange and remarkable story. In the beauty of two chestnut blossoms, on a single branch of a single tree in that awful place, that young woman found reassurance that God was still present, that God still cared, that God offered eternal life.
Looking out the window on a grey and damp March afternoon with a list of things to do in my diary that stretch past ten o’clock tonight could prompt feelings of gloom, but instead confronts me with countless signs of God’s grace.
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