Buchenwald is Everywhere

Salty Snippet October 2020

I introduce to you Jacques Lusseyran and Jeremy Regard, who have come to live in me through Jacques’ writings.   In his autobiography And There Was Light  (Parabola Books.com), Jacques tells how he was blinded as a child, lived a rich and normal life until the Nazis entered Paris, and in January of 1944 at the age of 19 he was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp because of his work in the Resistance.  He also wrote a collection of essays, Against the Pollution of the I, and it is one of these powerful sharings I’d like to briefly describe for you.

    Jeremy Regard, known in the camp as “Socrates,” was a welder from a mountain village.  A small older man, Jacques heard of him and expected he must be highly intelligent, wise, or saintly, given the awe with which people spoke of him.  When Jacques finally encountered Jeremy, he was astounded to sense that Jeremy wasn’t really a thinker:  he told stories.  Jeremy walked through this barracks of a thousand men living where four hundred would have been crowded, men terrified, furious, confused, desperate, and Jeremy was calm and genuinely present with himself and with you.  He actually exuded joy!  To be near him “brings you back to yourself when you are about to disappear.”

   He was a Christian Scientist but never expounded on ideas.  In fact, Jeremy said many of these men would die from ideas.  Jacques saw this happen, especially those who thought they were in hell.

 Jeremy’s view was so different.  He was not a dreamer.  “The rest of us were dreamers: we dreamed of women, of children, of houses…We weren’t at Buchenwald.  We didn’t want anything to do with Buchenwald.”  …”His eyes were solidly fixed on all our miseries and he did not blink.” Nor did he have the air of a hero. 

   As Jacques tried to see with Jeremy’s eyes, he gradually saw that “Buchenwald was not unique…also that our camp was not in Germany…Buchenwald was in each of us.”  It was anywhere and everywhere when people live with a willingness to succumb to fear and to stop living fully where they are.

   Jeremy found joy in Buchenwald!  To be with him was to feel it inexplicably rise up inside one’s self again. “The joy of being alive in this moment, in the next, each time we became aware of it.  The joy of feeling the lives of others, of some others at least, against us, in the dark of night.” 

   Jacques:  “What I call supernatural in him was the break with habits.. of judgment which make us call any adversity “unhappiness” or “evil.””  Judgments which make us angry, complaining, feeling entitled to something better.  He had chosen to stand in “that which does not depend on any circumstance.”

Jacques ends this sharing by suggesting we all “put memory in quarantine.”  (a poignant turn of expression for us today!)  Images and ideas we hold onto of things that are not present now, judgments of comparison, standing in the past – these pull us out of the joy still possible anywhere.  However, a memory that nourishes, strengthens us to be present here – such as an inspiring person – this type of memory increases our presence now, allows the joy of being alive to arise anywhere.  Just as Buchenwald can arise in us anywhere if we choose the view of being deprived.

                                      -1999, Parabola Books, New York. “Poetry in Buchenwald” is another marvelous essay there of how sharing poetry helped people survive.  His autobiography is magnificent.  He was one of a very small number who survived Buchenwald – blind!  He actually survived because he was blind.  He learned that he received guidance all the time as long as he didn’t cloud his knowings with “anger, fear, or competition”!   -Marti Matthews

Open The Door

SALTY SNIPPIT January 2021

Open The Door

A New Year!  Yay!  The world turns, change comes (as it always does) and Hope awakens.  Let us each contribute to Newness in our world by opening to The New in our personal lives.

   As I try to do this, I realize that the attitude of “letting go” of what’s past, as is often recommended, does not work easily for me.  Instead, I’ve found it’s more powerful if I’m able to say, “This is finished.”

   Perhaps you’ve heard of Marie Kondo’s book The Gentle Art of Tidying. Her power word is “Joy”: she holds an item in her hand and asks, “Does it give me joy?” If it fails this test, she gets rid of it.  I find this does work, especially when I’m truly willing to be NEW.  [If I feel sentiment about the object, I either burn it or bury it in my back yard.]

   But here is more:  There’s a theory that not only do we live many lives (“reincarnations”), but we may reincarnate, so to speak, even in this same body.  We may shed our old self like a snake who crawls out of its skin many times, a new being similar to the old but the old is truly, completely, left behind.  This image helps me as I try to allow myself to be new and sort and toss through stuff that keeps my past alive.

   Here are a few thoughts I keep in my mind:

-Theevidenceof what is past should disappear.  I say, “This is finished.”

-Trying to be truly open to newness, I ask “Is this object-of-the-past a way to hide from newness?

   Newness can be scary but if we take the attitude of Alice in Wonderland and call it an adventure, then we add fun and vitality into the unknown and bizarre.  We are strong enough to interact with whatever appears, and Life will carry us forward into learnings.  Like Alice, we can choose to be bigger or smaller as needed, and we can ask questions when we can’t see a direction.

   Let us open more than a window to peek through into newness:  Let us open our DOOR and step over the threshold and BE in a new place!  Let’s allow ourselves to stand in a new place and be unfamiliar even to our self!


“Grandma, your house is too relaxing,” Adele commented to me.  I knew she was right; I have not been able to figure out how to raise the energy in my house; I want to take a nap all the time.  “You need to paint it all white with black trim!” was her solution.  The black trim didn’t sound right, but I considered white walls.  I do love the light green in the living room and the dark intense red in the dining room, but I realized that white walls would, in fact, lift the energy.

Once decided, I was at it immediately, grabbing the first available non-painter to do the painting.  In one day my very petite but determined housecleaner, Ruthie from Indonesia, had done the entire living room (she’d never painted before) and then the next weekend she did the dining room.  And it does the trick!  The energy is WOW! –  lifted and light. 

   However, the rest of the house is in chaos, as we had quickly moved everything in these rooms “elsewhere”,  just anywhere;  now the dining room is completely empty and happy and light, the rest of the house is a stumbling muddle. 

   I’m reluctant to just return all that was in these rooms back to the way it was.  The new feeling of lightness is to savor. In the chaos, I’ve been finding what I need here and there, moving things a little to be more convenient, and feeling strangely happy and laid back.  No compulsion drives me to get going with this re-ordering process. A matter of fact, something-in-me feels NEW and happy!

   I feel an opportunity here to do what I always say and “get rid of things”.  I wonder what I really will miss?  I feel like putting things back just one piece by one piece, very slowly as they call to me.

   This re-ordering is not just about “simplifying”, making things look and feel lighter and more open.  This is really about cutting ties with my past!  I am a sentimentalist, keeping souvenirs of every person and experience I’ve treasured, even those that were heartbreaking or mixed bags. I also collect against the future:  books I hope to read “someday”, projects started and yet to finish ”someday”.  Following the basic guideline of the young Japanese advisor (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo), I feel ready to be completely honest about how each item makes me feel.  She says, “If it doesn’t bring you joy – Get rid of it!”   

    This sounds logical but really requires immense honesty and courage.  With some items I feel an obligation to be “respectful”, maybe grateful; to this impulse I respond by respectfully either burning or burying such items, unless, of course, they can be given away.

   I have found that giving myself permission to be truthful about my feelings towards people and events is immensely healing.  Truth, truth, truth: the medicine for endless ailments of body and spirit. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free!” said Jesus.   Learning to be thoughtful of others has been a valuable learning in my life, but protecting others from my honest experience of them has sometimes gone too far, for their well-being as well as my own.  Truth heals everyone, in the end.

And anyway, even wonderful experiences at some point are “past.”  One has the choice to just turn forward and face the adventure, let go of the pulls of the past, good or bad, and see what’s there yet!  New learnings, new fun!  Who knows what unexpected abilities are still inside me?

   Last night in my dreaming, wonderful feelings of freedom were coming up.  Here are a few of the images that came:

Some part of me has been a prisoner in a basement! / I’ve been an “indentured servant” to the happiness of others, to what others needed from me.  Now I seem to have gathered enough experience to cut out on my own, to follow my own knowing of what is right for ME. 

“No one owns me.  My life belongs to me”  came back to me.  I know this was from a previous life, something I scribbled in the dirt in a dungeon as I refused to eat, having been kidnapped….

Riding a tiger, a dream image from the nearer past, now I feel the tiger is my assertive self who knows how to find its own true path, even in the dark through a jungle.  “Walking under the stars in the dark, the tiger knows that it knows the path.” 

I walk in wildness, off the thread that would connect the past and the future that it would lead to.  I find a thread inside me and follow it to an unknown future….

Now I stand on top of the dune, free.

Alone?  No, there are many who cheer the true me, adventurers in their own lives. We inspire each other.

“Alting du behover.”  (Swedish:  Everything you need [will come to you])  This had come to me as a message from spirit in my past and then I saw it again on a wall painting that I will keep.  From somewhere comes the promise of Power with me, behind, below, around.

  Different;  The chaos in my house enables different.  It protects me from limitations I no longer need.

and “How things look?”  = Distraction!

I use my gathered resources and stand in this still-intact body. My riches, my support, are all my experience that I carry invisibly with me. 

I, the giant, hiding in my little body, face forward into adventure, protected by chaos, …..

                                   Marti Matthews  September 15, 2020

HOPE Just Needs A Good Night’s Sleep

Hope just needs a good night’s sleep

and there it is in the morn!


like a crocus through snow in spring.

   Or occasionally

Hope just needs a good old cry

like rain releasing heaviness from clouds,

water for new life,

allowing sunlight through

Faith requires effort.

Hope “happens,” by


     things to be

 just as they are.

To do “Faith,” one positions stiffly in one direction, like a soldier.

Faith is an act of mind, dependent on

  what it sees, or imagines wildly.

Hope relies on nothing

but gut feeling.  “Which direction would be better?

Hope senses what “better” feels like.

Hope sees one flower in desert snow and throws its arms around it, refusing

to look at the desert, the long winter….

Faith is Controlled Hope;

its only strength is Experience.

Reliable Experience.

   I have quite a bit of Faith in vitamins and chocolate

         and exercise,


         and friendship.  To me,

all true Love comes down to Friendship.

but that’s another subject.  If

there is a “God,”  Somewhere,

I would have most faith in That Being

If It were like a Friend to me.

  Various ideas

I was told about “God” have not worked reliably,

though chocolate has.

Hope is the same as taking breath. 

It’s the willingness to go on living

rather than, in one way or another,

refusing any more.   It’s the choice to continue

getting up each morning,

   trying whatever, taking one more step.   Hope feels the empty stomach

and chooses to respond. 

Hope faces the same old same-old

still willing one more try.

Hope faces utter darkness

and chooses breath.

Hope would rather feel pain

than nothing.  A soldier told me once

“If you feel pain, you know you’re still alive….”

Faith wavers under pain,

cowers in the darkness, in the storm.  It

rises, falls, with weather.


only begs for rest.

And then, it’s there again! –

like a spring of water, bubbling up

through thaw.  Just there,

ready to go like an old car, a horse;

“Sure let’s try once more,” Hope says.

And Hope and Heart join hands, and on they march,

  and on and on and on and on

-Marti Matthews, August 26, 2020

 On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, finally giving women the right to vote!

Destiny: Your Life is Beautiful

Here I want to summarize a 286 page book that has influenced me enormously – The Soul’s Code, In Search of Character and Calling, by James Hillman.

 Hillman was a maverick Jungian analyst, founding his thinking on that of Carl Jung.  Hillman’s hypothesis about our human condition he calls “The Acorn Theory.”  “The acorn theory …claims that each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny.  As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling.”  P.39.  …each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.” P.6

“… is already present before it can be lived” – in the same way that the oak tree is already present in the acorn.  From the beginning, everything in the acorn calls it to become not only an oak tree, but a specific oak tree.  Before we were born, our soul selected an image or pattern; perhaps general or specific learnings or gifts that would be possible in this particular lifetime.  The image itself is the soul-companion, the daimon that guides us here through our life.  The daimon remembers what belongs to our image and tries to keep us on track to do/be what we came here for.

The word daimon is Greek and much of Hillman’s ideas come from Plato and other Greek thinkers.  The Romans called it genius and the Roman Catholics call it your guardian angel.  I must admit this is confusing, as the daimon is called an “image” we are born with, yet the power of the daimon seems beyond our conscious control and affects us like an outer force that accompanies us.  Perhaps “destiny” is a similar (Greek) word – something we can neither fight nor do we need to try to fight.  The daimon will keep us on track!  Trust, then, of “how things go” is a proper relation with our lives. 

Free will is still functioning, but here’s an example I made myself to understand free will and destiny:  A particular acorn is buried by a squirrel; later a human happens to place a sign over the buried acorn.  Nevertheless, it grows. It bumps against the signpost and decides to grow to the left or the right.  It comes up around the signpost and now is in better or lesser sunlight then it might have been had it chosen the other direction.  Nevertheless, in the current conditions it continues to try to grow up into the particular oak that is the image calling it forth.

The image calling it forth:  this is the cause of Why We Are The Way We Are!  Hillman totally rejects all the current psychological theories:  My mother didn’t X, my father always y’d, my teachers never z’d.  The criminal was bullied as a child.  Over time, genetics caused A.  Poverty caused B.  An accident caused C.  No, No.  Hillman gives fascinating examples one after another of famous people we know whose lives deny all these theories. Causation does not function from the past; there is a future – the image of the particular Oak tree – that is the real cause of everything.  In philosophy, it’s called the “final” cause:  the goal pulls us toward it.  Other experiences affect us, but the final cause keeps pulling us towards what we came for.

Here we might think of “odd” things about ourselves:  Why did you always feel interested in X?  When you heard certain words, music, stories, a spark would jump up in you while not in others.  For example, as a Catholic child I heard the stories of Jesus and the images of God the Father over and over, but whenever I heard reference to “The Holy Spirit” something jumped up in me.  “What is that – the Holy Spirit?” I would wonder.  “They say it will bring you wisdom and courage.  Why don’t they talk more about the Holy Spirit?” Over many years I stumbled forward learning about the Still Small Voice inside me that I can trust,  that guides me in my best interests, that is available through my intuitions at any moment I need it.

The most obvious way the acorn theory (and also that of Carl Jung) differs from most other theories about human nature is that it looks at life from “before and after”, from an eternal view – that we are most basically eternal spirits here for awhile learning and growing and being creative.  In this way the acorn theory fits very well with modern physics, which is getting stranger and stranger… Quantum mechanics/physics is seeing everything as “consciousness”, expanding into ever larger units, and the Universe seems to be endlessly expanding.   Are we  consciousness and parts of larger units of consciousness, expanding by trying out new ideas?  Growth, creativity, seem to be the primary pulse of All.  I would add that in our experience we find some ideas are more successful than others: “pain and suffering” guide us to conclude that some ideas are more creative, productive, pleasing than others.  We naturally look for ways to live that please us more – and that is important!  I was raised with some unhealthy ideas that in some strange way suffering is good, “God loves us when we suffer silently,” we show how we love X by suffering, etc.  This is very contrary to Nature and not healthy.  Suffering should guide us towards finding a way out of it, i.e. towards change, towards growth. 

One more important aspect of our acorn:  it must grow down before it can grow up.  When a soul is born into this world, it first must learn how to manipulate in a body, how to speak a language, how to relate to people around it, etc.  We have many images in religions of reaching upward for the skies, of getting ahead of ourselves by letting go of all desires, living less and less fully here and now.  We are here to be here.  There’s no need to fear physical experience, nor the desires that arise in us which may actually be our daimon guiding us!  The more we try to get rid of what attracts us, the stronger “Fate” must work to keep us on track with the image that pulls us forward.

In 286 fascinating pages full of clarifying stories, Hillman examines this possible view of human life in greater detail.  For example, how to explain Hitler and other horrible people?  What if we don’t succeed in what our soul intended?  What about people who die in childhood? I hope you might be tempted to read this book.  I may write more on it in the future.  James Hillman sees our lives as starting with a unique and beautiful image, and it is always trying to carry us forward to live out what we came for.  We can trust our lives!  But – watch for “guidance”…