February 17, 2017
Back in 1981, before Steve and I were married, we had the privilege of hearing a Romanian pastor named Richard Wurmbrand speak.
Because of his faith, Wurmbrand spent fourteen years being tortured in Communist prisons during the 1940’s and 1950’s. His wife Sabina was also imprisoned, leaving behind a 12-year old son.
When Sabina was finally released, she had no idea where Richard was or whether or not he was alive. According to historyswomen.com:
“The Communist leaders offered her freedom if she would divorce her husband and renounce her faith. She refused. They then told her that her husband died in prison. She would not believe the report and kept a hope alive that she would see her husband again someday.”
Seven years passed and then one day, Sabina received a postcard from Richard that began with these words:
“Time and distance quench a small love, but make a great love grow stronger.”
Those are words that will snatch your breath away, words that so beautifully illustrate the faithfulness steadfastness of a great love.
But even more inspiring than what Richard wrote are some words that Sabina penned a few years later describing her experiences in prison. I have thought so often of these hard-fought phrases since I first read them a few weeks ago.
People learn what it means to be on this earth with nothing to do when they enter prison. Not to wash, or sew, or work.
Women talked with longing about cooking and cleaning. How they would like to bake a cake for their children, then go round the house with a duster, and clean the windows, and scrub the tables.
We had nothing even to look at. Time did not pass. It stood still.
Those words were nothing short of life-altering for me.
Each time I am tempted to start muttering when I have to make dinner, get ready for work, or put in a load of laundry, I am stopped cold by the truth and the power of Sabina’s words and the illumination they shone on the suffering women around her. Those women were dreaming the most impossible dream: simply to stand in a kitchen and stir together flour and sugar for a cake.
I know that housework and cooking are not glamorous or exciting in themselves. However, in their quiet, sacred simplicity, they proclaim our privilege of getting to care for our homes and our families in the embrace of safety and freedom. To complain about that honor is to do a disservice to millions of mistreated women–past and present–who would give anything to stand in our shoes.
And so my ongoing challenge to myself (and to you, my dear readers), is to remember Sabina and her sisters in suffering.
They are watching us from decades past–watching with eyes that are so hungry for the glorious and humble tasks we are not just permitted but privileged to do.
When I remember those brave women and their longing for the life I have, I am not just challenged. I am forever changed.
Note: If you would like to learn more about Sabina, you can start here.
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie are all on the list of things I love.