Sunday, October 01, 2006

Deb's Pilgrimage to Poland continued (4)

So we have come to the final chapter in the pilgrimage to Poland. Without the trip to the Divine Mercy I don't think I could have gone onto this chapter. We set out very early in the morning for Auschwitz and Birkenau, the Nazi Death Camps. We entered the camp in full sun and upon entering a coldness seemed to engulf us and a rain and drizzle came upon us. What a awful place filled with such pain and gruesomeness. The terrible things we do to each other. You could hardly look into the eyes of the pictures of the prisoners or see rooms filled with their hair and clothing that was taken from them. As this 3 hours was spent in the Death Camps you realized how these peoples dignity was taken completely away from them. It was unbelievable to stand where such evilness existed and how many millions of people had been murdered there. Your heart just breaks. Although I was able to see the death cell of Maximilian Kolbe and could fully understand his true act of mercy, it was hard to stand in the place of martyrdom. But even in the gruesomeness of it all, there on a cell wall a prisoner had carved out a picture of the Sacred Heart of Christ. Hope was still alive! It was amazing.
After the death camps we went to a church of Maximilian Kolbe's order the Missionaries of the Immaculata where we attended mass. It was at this church that they had the original painting of Mary that Maximilian had a vision of Mary at the age 10. This is when she offered him a white crown of purity or a red crown of martyrdom. He took both. As I sat in the church I again felt the tears come. For I realized that as a child in my attic bedroom there had been a cardboard cutout picture of Mary that hung over my bed. I had never known where it had come from, but that it was just always there. What I realized that it was the same exact picture that Maximilian Kolbe had made his commitment before. Even as a child I realized both Mary and Saint Kolbe had their hands upon my life.
As soon as we left the church we were taken to a basement or labyrinth. A 17 year old boy who had survived Auschwitz all 6 years, was now a 80 year old man. He had a stroke at 70 and remembered that he had made a promise to tell the world what really happened to them in the death camp. So a very incredible artist, he has set out to share his experience. This basement was filled with his art and his life in Auschwitz. It was incredible. This 17 year old/80 year old man had a better touch on theology than most theologians. His black/white drawings showed the sheer evil of the camps and his life there, and yet they had the presence of God and his love and mercy always present. He at one point shows the crucifixion and he is attached to Christ, because he realizes we are one with the Lord. We were allowed to take pictures, but his work is copyrighted and I don't feel like I can put them on the blog. But his name is Marianna Kolodzieja and he has a book out of his work. It is gruesome, yet so holy. When we return to the states I would like to share his work and insights with anyone interested, but in the mean time I want to share some insights in faith that I learned from a 17 year boy/80 year old man. We all need Christ deep within us.
One of the 1st pictures you see is of the 1st train load that arrived at the death camp. These were the intellectuals of Poland, the people who had groomed society. So when 4 men were to share a loaf of bread they made a scale to break the bread evenly. But in not so long of time another train load of people came in, and people started to steal food to survive. The scale would no longer work. It is here that the boy realized he would need to keep the scale within him as should we. For daily he was faced with good/evil choices and he had to choose which side of the scale he would be on. Do we keep a scale within us, and use it in every instance we are faced with. How do we treat each other, especially the ones we love? Again I want to share more about his work in time as I process it, because it has touched me ever so deeply. So I will continue to blog on his work for those who are interested.
So for now I will tell you from here we headed home on a 14 hour bus ride to reach Gaming at 4 AM. The trip was filled with lots of questions of who do I want to be and what kind of difference do I want to make in this world of our Lord's of Mercy. I love you all and am so thankful for what you have shared with our family and your continued love and support. May the Mercy of our Lord be upon you always. Love you in Christ, Deb.
Jesus, I trust in You!!


colleen ware said...

Deb, your blogs made me cry! Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage with us. God works in amazing ways...

Michael and Karen Grosz said...

Your story of your pilgrimage touched us both. Please keep sharing your insights.