Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's not what they were, just that they were....

Our last stop in Czestochowa was at a Paulite monastery, Jasna Gora, mainly to visit a famous painting called the Black Madonna. There were tons of people visiting this monastery for several reasons that night. First of all there were over 350 of us on this trip. The Pope was coming in just a few days, so the monastery was busy readying itself for his visit. Many locals were simply attending mass. At any rate, there were tons and tons of people there – so I made a point to at least go in the sanctuary, but I just sort of walked on by the Black Madonna. I was able to get a small glimpse of it, but not being Catholic, it didn’t hold much significance for me, but it was still interesting and a nice place to be at. The thing that held the most significance for me is probably rather odd, but oh well. As it would only seem normal, there were many priests that were walking around the monastery, and being in seminary, I felt like we had SOME sort of connection. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I felt like I wanted to run up to them and shake their hand or something and tell them what I was studying back in the US. This weird desire to shake hands with a priest in training was even stronger when I saw a few of them were very young and as they passed by two of them were wearing jeans and tennis shoes underneath their robes. It was just a weird connection to someone in a completely different culture, in a different religion; I just felt this odd connection, like we both would know what the other was thinking. That both of us were younger 20 somethings trying to discern our calling by learning all we could in seminary. It was at that point though that I couldn’t help but think… I’ve seen this person for maybe 5 seconds, never spoken with them, and probably never will, but I could already establish a connection with them. Let’s just say before that small connection I didn’t recognize their humanity – I know that didn’t happen – but let’s pretend. Within 5 seconds of realizing something we have in common, I was able to establish within my brain, humanity and dignity within that person. It was in this weird 5 second weird notice I took of some jeans and tennis shoes underneath a robe that I can’t help but wondering how anyone could kill another human being simply for what they were. Not even killing for what they were, just that they were…just that they existed. Chaim was right – the more education you receive on the Holocaust, the more questions you have, and the more you realize that you will never be able to explain it. What a daunting task. After a very long first day, that I’m not sure when it actually started, because I remember putting these clothes on in the US when I think it was May 23, but who knows, we had dinner at a nice little restaurant called Sala Bankietowa before finally driving to Katowice for the night. Finally a bed, a place to relax and try and process what I’ve seen today… this could take a while though.

No comments: