Unbroken is Laura Hildebrand’s phenomenal retelling of the incredible life of Louis Zamperini.
Among it’s chapters are Zamperini’s recollections of years spent as a Japanese POW during World War II. (Horrific it is to ponder the real evil that can dwell in the human heart. At the same time, it’s profoundly stirring to see the potential of the human spirit to cope, even flourish, in the worst of hells! Zamperini’s story, in fact, could be added to last week’s post — a catalog of overwhelmingly impressive stories of forgiveness!)
Sensitized, I know, by the Holy Week I was then walking through (just a few months ago), one particular passage caught my eye… and heart. It was around Good Friday, in fact, that I read of the myriad responses of Zamperini and other POWs as rumor of the war’s true end first circulated:
“Bad Eye” [the nickname for one of the guards] said something in Japanese, and Marvin [one of Zamperini’s fellow captives] wasn’t sure he understood. Marvin found a friend fluent in Japanese, pulled him into the room, and asked Bad Eye to repeat what he’d said.
“The war is over.”
Marvin began sobbing. He and his friend stood together, bawling like children.
The workers were marched back to camp. Marvin and his friend hurried among the POWs, sharing what Bad Eye had said, but not one of their listeners believed it. Everyone had heard this rumor before, and each time, it had turned out to be false. In camp, there was no sign that anything had changed. The camp officials explained that the work had been suspended only because there had been a power outage. A few men celebrated the peace rumor, but Louie and many others were anticipating something very different. [Rumors were rampant: of a coming bombing of the camp, of Japanese plans to annihilate all POWs in advance of any American invasion,…]
The POWs couldn’t sleep…
A few celebrated. Still, most fretted over the rumors. They could not sleep.
“Overhearing” and taking it all in, I found myself journaling that Good Friday:
spent amidst the rumors
that victory’s won.
Prisoners of war are we all—
seeking full and final liberation.
In the in between
of barb wire and open tomb,
when will we fully believe?
When will we finally dance?!
Yes, Lord, help Thou our unbelief!