Poland, Poland, Poland, Poland.
I wish that my heart was as good and clean and wholesome and beautiful and lovable and pure as the beautiful country of Poland.
As my plane was landing, I laughed to myself.
Last month, when I gave a talk on joy (wherein I basically just actually talked about suffering), at question-time, a woman asked, “How does one ‘joy’ in seasons of desolation?”
Desolation, FYI, is when God feels very far away, when heaven is very silent.
I mentioned something St. Ignatuis of Loyola said, that, when things are going rough, it is important to remember when things were going well. It’s important to have that moment, to look back at your life, to return to those places where things were different and where you knew that God was present.
I laughed to myself, as the plane touched down.
Eleven years ago I first came to Poland. I always thought it was one of the most beautiful places I ever visited, but I wasn’t sure if that was just the magic of being in Europe for the first time.
It was on that trip that I first went to World Youth Day, first encountered the Universal church on a giant scale. It was on that trip that I first walked past the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe died…unexpectedly, I walked past his cell on his feast day (only, there are so few actual coincidences, aren’t there?). Poland. The nation who gifted us with St. JPII (“It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness…”) and St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy–all of these in the last century alone.
And I came back. Physically. I spent my money and flew there.
And it was so, so worth it. Like a flippin’ balm of restoration.
I think I walked through a set of Holy Doors every day. I saw the mountains. I saw the churches. And I inhaled it. I inhaled every blessed moment–every cobblestone street and every soaring church, every sheep on the meadowed fields and every French fry (Poland is still slightly behind on its gluten-free game).
One night we were riding a train to the mountains, a 3+ hour train ride through Poland. And the boys started singing, to pass the time (we were the only ones in the train car). And then, somehow, by a bit of magic dust…I joined them. I joined them long and loud. We sang so many songs, as many as we could think of, as loud as we could.
And right then I thought to myself, “I’m back. I’m back again. It’s been a long, hard year, but…I have remembered how to sing again…just because.”
And sing I did. Until my voice was worn and my throat dry.
I can update you more, too, don’t worry.
And I will (if the Lord wills it).
But, for now: jet-lag, baby. Goose, goose night!