Friday, 21 January 2011


The picture is of a dying Hungarian Jewish woman and was sketched by the artist William Congdon, who you can read about at
Congdon is an artist who interests me greatly - he began as a safe, comfortable and well off American, everything on a plate, but witnessed terrible suffering and death as an ambulance driver during World War 2 and was shocked into a deeper  and more spiritual engagement with life, expressed through painting.
This particular picture is reflective of his horror at entering the concentation camp Bergen Belsen, on its liberation. It was one of the events which radically changed him.
I post it here because it reminds me strongly of a fascinating and moving book I read recently while researching the Feminine Divine: 'The Female Face of God in Auschwitz, A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust' by Melissa Raphael. (  for a helpful review) She says, among many other things, 'Presence is the key to a good death.' In the face of women caring for one another in the suffering of the death camps, giving the only comfort they can simply by sitting alongside, here, Raphael says, is God's presence revealed. To quote again, 'the suffering of the Shekhina ( Presence of God - feminine) is that of one who, being among us, suffers with us ...'


  1. Dear Annie - This is so beautiful

  2. Again - yes, this blog is such a good idea. It feels nourishing, warm and full of potential. Holy ground!