Spring’s Challenge in Conflictual Times

Spring Flowere breaking through the snow as winter goes into Spring
Yellow Crocuses, Spring Awakening By Fotozick on Canva

A New Beginning and Hope

The season for a fresh start seemed upon us with its promise of renewal and healing. Out of the deep darkness, a seed, a kernel of insight, grows towards the light and life with opportunity and challenge. People were reemerging after a trying and difficult period with some hopefulness of new beginnings.

A Personal Awakening

I recalled an earlier instance in my personal life when winter was receding with the early appearing sign of Spring. I was dutifully making my way to my distant contract job ninety minutes away from our warm and cozy home in a vacation-like, small, mountainous area of Lenox, Massachusetts. My destiny was Albany, New York, an urban area and capital of the state. I was on the faculty of the area medical school and worked at the adjoining state psychiatric hospital. I don’t know if the long commute was wearing me down, the frustration with the job, and its limitation fell very short of my expectations. I even thought I might suffer from the winter blues called in mental health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).¹

The Trip

After a long, arduous flight, we arrived in Israel on a sunny, warm day in 1987. We were young and full of wonder, adventure, and anticipation that something profound would occur. My wife and I immediately began a search for a long-lost family member. Success brought us to a modest hotel lobby near Jerusalem in the hot desert-like landscape. I met a newfound niece of my mother’s dear cousin, Iren, who migrated to Israel after her release from a Nazi concentration camp. Several years before her death, mom had expressed her regret that she had never found and reconnected with the displaced cousin, now a refugee in a new land.

The Reconnection and Realization

When we walked into the room, Iren, who appeared slightly frail and elderly, with a concentration number tattooed on her arm, beamed with such warmth and a smile that our hearts melted, and all of us were crying and hugging. A profound sense of meaning came with the joining of our hearts and family’s past. The occasion was also profoundly moving, as just the day before, we had visited the Holocaust² Museum in Jerusalem. There were many reminders of that era’s horrific events, such as the exhibit of children’s shoes belonging to the many sent to the crematoriums by the Nazis. Some of these children were from our family.

Iren’s Poetry

Iren had not only survived, but my impression was that she had moved to a much higher place of spirituality and love, though she still carried the deep scars of her losses and sacrifice. She had also become an accomplished poet and shared some of her work with me about her Holocaust ordeal, written in her native Hungarian, trying to find meaning in personal suffering and tragedy.

VARAD MEMENTO — A Poem of Iren W. Steier

Varad, 1944 March 10 Iren Steier — Remembering the Holocaust

Awakening, the Message, and Hopefulness

After my return, I realized that my self-conceived bubble of safety and autonomy had burst into the reality of living in a global, interconnected community with a shared history. As terrible events passed, the impact of the destruction and loss remained a burden to the survivors. Those not directly affected soon forget, especially if generations have passed and migration has occurred to other countries. Ignoring history and its relevance allows the repetition of tragedies. Another dangerous autocrat or dictator arises as we forget the potential for misguided, authoritarian leaders and despots to appear.


  1. Always be vigilant for unhealthy outside influences or others’ adverse personal actions or behaviors that may misguide us.

For more of Iren Steier’s poems — CLICK HERE.




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Ron Parks

Ron Parks

Ron Parks, MD, is a physician, consultant, a writer in integrative psychiatry, holistic medicine, and healthcare.