Some days remain in our minds long after they come to an end. Perhaps because they leave an imprint so deep that it becomes part of who we are.
The aroma of soup cooking in the kitchen wafted upstairs to the balcony where I stood. The sun was out and the world seemed as it should be that spring morning. I went downstairs for breakfast when my two older brothers came bursting in.
They could barely talk … frantically, they blurted out something about Señora Eva and blood. My Mom followed them out and I trailed behind.
Señora Eva was an older, family friend who lived two blocks away and we kept a vegetable garden in her backyard. Earlier that morning my Mom had sent my brothers to pull some onions she needed.
I arrived moments after my Mom and brothers. There on the kitchen floor lay sweet, old Señora Eva in a pool of blood, moaning. From what I could see it looked like someone had cut her stomach open and her intestines had spilled out. Her graying black hair was tangled mixed with drying blood.
She kept calling out her nephew’s name, “Pedro! Pedro!”
“Where’s Pedro? I need to fix breakfast for Pedro.”
My Mom grabbed me and hurried away.
Who could have done such an evil thing to sweet Señora Eva? I must have been about six years old, and I remember feeling terrified — as if the ground beneath had suddenly gone.
My small world, the tiny village where everyone knew each other and where we children gathered in the plaza to play, was not a safe place after all. The world was not a safe place.
A fear unlike anything I’d experienced entered my heart. And another layer protection was built around my heart.
In the months and years that followed that horrifying day, I overheard my parents talking about Señora Eva. Her one and only nephew, whom she adored with all her heart, had murdered her while high on drugs.
Years later, when I visited Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland, a similar sinking feeling of the ground suddenly disappearing came over me. It was a cold, gray December day and I could sense the evil and spiritual darkness that still seemed to hover over the place. And in my heart, I cried out to God, “How could you allow such evil to happen?”
I remembered what Corrie ten Boom said. “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” She survived a similar camp in Germany. She knew God’s love in a way I did not.
But God met me that cold day in Poland in a way, I’d never experienced before. But more on that later.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ” says David in Psalm 23.
And in another place, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. ” Ps. 46:2
No matter what may happen in our world, in our lives, we do not have to fear. There is a way out even through the darkest valley.