... is a vessel, and it can hold limitless quantities. Most hearts hold a variety of things - ranging from the adoring tenderness for a child to the bitter wrath of disappointment. My belief is that most hearts are chambers of pleasantness, although we all know of some whose hearts are bleak,desolate wastelands.
Two days ago, a woman passed away. She was 100 years old, and when you think about the things that any 100-year-old person has seen and experienced, you can imagine that their hearts must be very full.
This woman was named Miep Gies. She was unremarkable in many ways, and most of what I know of her I've read in the last 24 hours since hearing of her death.
It was she who hid Anne Frank and his family -- and in fact, apparently it was she who saved the little girl's diary. These two acts make her,in my mind, one of the most remarkable human beings ever to walk upon this earth.
By simply providing shelter to her boss (she was Otto Frank's secretary, apparently) she performed an act of heroism equal to any performed anywhere, at any time of human history. The personal danger she risked ... well, one can only imagine.
Here is a quote, which I think illuminates the chambers of Miep Gies' heart:
Miep Gies stated in her autobiography, and on her own website:
I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – much more - during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.
By the saving of a simple little book, which she did with the intent of returning it to Anne, "afterward", she has given the world a gift. WE, those of us of this world, have some exceptional treasures. The Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels, various priceless paintings, works of literature....in fact, I view potsherds dug up from archaelogical sites "treasures".
But this humble piece of ephemera, the writing of a little girl in a dark loft at one of the darkest periods of human history -- this is the equal of any other.
This is Miep and Jan Gies, standing (as I believe) in the very space in which they concealed the Anne and her family and the others. The link from which I took it is an article worth reading; find it here: Global Voices.
The people responsible for our "innerwebs" were grandchildren - or great-grandchildren - of people not yet born when Miep made her world-altering decision, and now, in 2010, I can share this story with you.
When I die, I mean to look up Miep Gies; there is nothing of value I can say to her, but I would welcome the opportunity to simple kiss her gentle hand.