I appreciated the film Defiance
because it reminded me of our community. Not that we are under severe persecution and are operating underground. But in the face of incredible odds, we are surviving as a community. That's what I'm talking about.
The main task of the Bielski brothers isn't to form an army to attack the Nazi forces. Their main job, overall, is to maintain their small and harassed community, to keep it safe, protected, fed, sheltered and unified. More than that, they somehow have to try to keep hope alive in the afflicted people. Every once in a while new refugees wander into the camp for shelter and they were quickly integrated into the safety of the community. Their defiance is not as much against the Nazis, a nation or a people, but against death itself, against annihilation, against division, against hopelessness, against fear. Tuvia's defiance represents his unwillingness to surrender to the manifest destiny of the powers towards world domination and of his own people towards extermination. The film focuses on the inner tensions of the forest dwelling refugees and Tuvia's constant endeavor to maintain morale in a community so harassed. Their occasional raids on Germans and their collaborators is the side story.
Last Sunday when we called all the mothers up to receive some flowers, my heart sank. I was overcome by how many of them have gone through and are going through incredible suffering. The men seated out there behind them were just as much in pain. The stories! And I realized that what we need most is to keep our community as healthy as possible. Our defiance is not so much against everything "out there", but more against our fears, our hopelessness, and against death itself. These people need to know that they are cared for here, loved, protected, and provided for. No, we're not isolationist or protectionist. We welcome any who wander into our camp. We are like refugees who have discovered a safe place to find faith, joy, love, and hope, and to keep ourselves alive. It is a place to survive and even thrive together. To me, the fact that we are such a community is our testimony.