Though I've read many stories, I've never been in the same room with a "real" Holocaust survivor until this week. Dr. Livia Bitton-Jackson visited Omaha and spoke to a packed audience where I was privileged to be. Livia has written three autobiographical books in order to tell her story of survival.
The title of the first describes what she feels deeply: I've Lived a Thousand Years (best priced as a paperback at Borders).
Livia told many unique, personal stories. A few were funny, thankfully, to break the gloom of the overall story. Several told of how prejudice grows in an individual or in a society.
Today, I attended the funeral of Hugh Marshall, my 90-year-old former student. That funeral had something in common with Livia Bitton-Jackson's speech about the Holocaust. Both were reminders that when our lives are dynamic--and certainly both of these individual lives were--we have the sense of having lived "a thousand years." That sense seems to be increased, whether our lives are made up of many horrors or of dramatically wonderful events. Both have the potential for changing us in positive ways.
Some would say that Hugh was a rather common man compared to Livia. Yet neither were common at all. For both have overcome adversities, managed to survive monumental challenges and to be a tremendous blessing to others.
May your "thousand years" be filled with increasing joys, as mine has! May you find many people to inspire you along the way!