Blog of Ewa Bartosiewicz

Category: Here and now (Page 2 of 2)

The converted wound

We are celebrating the Ignatian year – a commemoration of 500 years since the conversion of St. Ignacy Loyola. It turns out, however, that in Spanish this anniversary sounds a bit different, because it’s the 500th anniversary of “the wound” of St. Ignatius. It has been 5 centuries since the founder of the Jesuits was wounded by a cannonball during the defence of Pamplona. This was, indeed, the beginning of his conversion, because reading the lives of the saints during the convalescence pushed him into giving his life completely to Jesus, but nevertheless this “wound” matters. Sometimes you has to travel 2,500 km to discover such a simple truth.

I have received a gift from God to celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius in Pamplona, ​​where it all began for him. This is also where I started my retreat, which was a time of healing wounds and regaining spiritual strength before the long journey that awaits me (if I follow Ignatius’ footsteps, it will really be a veeery long way). Jesus’ feet also accompanied me. Those that walked many miles on earth, were anointed by a friend from Bethany, carried the weight of the cross… and then were immobilised by sharp nails, but only for a short time, just to walk the earth again very soon. This time different, converted, resurrected. Still hurt though.

We all have wounds inside of us. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. But never so great that God could not turn them into glorious scars. This is what Cristóbal Fones SJ sings about, in this song (my translation below):

At the end of our life we will arrive
with the wound turned into a scar

Love will take its toll.
The road will leave us a thousand footprints.
We will stumble over the same wall.
Any disappointment will make a dent in us.
But we are children of a God that is in love.
Thirsty seekers of answers.
We are pure ambition that You sowed,
so that your kingdom would flourish.

We will fight to death with the ego.
We will feel that time is pressing on us.
We will hold on to our defeats.
We will lose the music and the life.
And yet, we will continue dancing.
Because that’s how we are, humans that belong to you.
Bearers of an unquenchable fire.
Believers in a world without borders.

We are excited about our fragility,
dreamers who do not despair.
We will never give up tomorrow
although today the storm touches us.
And if the motives crack
for having chosen your flag,
we’ll keep walking cracked,
because your Gospel is now our land.

The way of an ecological conversion

I came across the Global Catholic Climate Movement (now Laudato Si ‘Movement) a long time ago, around 2011, when my Kenyan friend Allen founded the movement operating in Africa (CYNESA). It aims to involve young Catholics in ecological activities. Since then, a lot has changed in the consciousness of the world (including the ecclesiastical one), and above all, Pope Francis wrote the encyclical Laudato Si ‘, which should lead us through the ways of properly understood ecology.

For a long time I have felt that Christianity and ecology go hand in hand (despite many opposing voices), because after all, taking care of the entire creation is part of our humanity. I tried to live this call in my private life, and in 2019 I was happy to take part in the spiritual journey related to our ecological conversion as part of the “Żyj Bardziej” project where you could buy a booklet with my short thoughts on the spiritual aspects of ecology along with other eco-surprises. At that time, in our parish in Poznań, we tried to introduce our parishioners to the issues related with Laudato Si’, as part of the eco group of the post-academic community Syjon.

Today, this time in Warsaw, I intend to continue to walk along a thin path between spirituality and ecological movements, which for many on both sides of political and social divisions seems difficult. For me, it is the most obvious place in the world and I am thinking of further spiritual projects that will allow us to better experience all the good that God has given us in other creatures. If this is also close to your heart, stay tuned, because something will be going on 😉 I also encourage you to sign the petition on biodiversity before COP15. This is an opportunity to include our Catholic voice in the discussion where the most important decisions are being made.

Come and see!

Two and a half years ago, during one of my formation meetings, I heard something wise that accompanies me until today. One simple rule: love and laugh. It captivated me and convinced me that when someone approaches life with deadly seriousness, something is wrong. Although many tears have been on my way lately, love and smiles still play the main role.

Recently it wrote about music, now it’s time for a movie. I am not a big cinema lover. The list of films that I should see is extremely long and I have to assume that I will never see most of them. But there is a movie, even a series, that I have been watching with excitement lately, eagerly awaiting the next episodes. I’ve heard about “The Chosen” many times in previous years, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I decided to watch the first episode. Before, I was thinking what probably many of you have in mind: “What good can from Nazareth? Can you make a good movie about Jesus?” Well yes, you can! What Dallas Jenkins and his team have created is a fascinating journey not only through faithfully reproduced scenes from the Gospel, but also the networks of relationships that are formed around and in opposition to Jesus. Each episode was an introduction to prayer for me, during which I cried many times. However, this series is not only emotional, but also full of brilliant dialogues and great jokes, which makes it a perfect fit for the motto “love and laugh”.

I don’t think it will be a huge spoiler if I share with you a scene from season two that has inspired me spiritually. The moment of picking the heads of grain on the Sabbath is shown in such a way that Peter (actually still Simon) begins the picking, while talking vividly about something, when the apostles with Jesus pass through the fields. He does it unconsciously and probably would not have realised it at all if it were not for the fact that the other apostles look at him with surprise. After all, it is Sabbath, and harvesting is not allowed. Everyone is very hungry because they are running low on supplies and everyone wants to have a bite to eat. Jesus only says one word: “you may.” At this point, it was as if someone had restored the freedom they had been deprived of by the law. Then, of course, the outraged Pharisees show up, and Jesus explains the situation to them by quoting the Scriptures about David and the priests, but that seems less important. One can try to understand why certain things are more important than the letter of the law, but it seems crucial to me not to let the reality of sin that separates us from God and closes us to love mix together in our hearts with what is unappropriated, not seen well or could cause the anger of others. If, in our prayer, Jesus consistently says to us “you may”, and we still have doubts: “but what will others say?”, maybe it is worth accepting the freedom of God’s children with joy.

p.s. As a huge fan of “The Chosen” I watch not only the series itself, which you can find at https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen, but also additions on the official channel, inspiration from Pastor Brandon, and comments from Messianic Jewses 😉 If you haven’t started to watch yet, catch up quickly, because the third season in coming in autumn!

There is everything

Time flies quickly on vacation, especially if you have lots of great meetings with great people planned. For the last 3 weeks, I have received, not even a sea, but a whole ocean of goodness, support and love, for which I am very grateful. Among them, I cannot fail to mention the messages from two of my former students from Gdynia, who made me very happy remembering religion lessons, which in my eyes seemed to be a complete disaster, and yet they brought someone to God. It is amazing how imperfect tools are used by the One who Himself is the Most Perfect!

Today I would like to share with you a song that has been a guide for me on new paths for the last six months. It was this song that prepared me for difficult decisions and to this day makes me face reality with great gratitude, without regret and frustration. It doesn’t say a word about Jesus, but that’s not a problem at all. The song is in Polish but you have the words below.

And it is breathtaking that there is something and not nothing.
When you wake up, it is still you
And it’s breathtaking that there’s someone next to you
And that there could be nothing … And there is everything …

I’m here all alone
Yet moments ago I was surrounded by a crowd
Lying down, surrounded by four walls
Feeling as if I’m drowning on the inside
The grey ceiling just won’t collapse
My body will not pick me up
But you’re just like me
In that you only want more and more…
Want more and more…

(Chorus)
And it takes your breath away, that there’s anything at all
When you wake up, that you’re still yourself
And it takes your breath away,
that there’s somebody next to you
And that there could’ve been nothing…
Yet there’s everything…

Yet there’s everything… There’s everything…

You’re here all alone
You simply exist
No one’s waiting for your sign
No one sees you stumbling
There’s no fanfares, no golden gates
No colourful light, no warmth of the crowd
Beauty can be found
Even in quiet serenity

And since the greyness isn’t thrilling
How many colours do you need?
And although the sun has gone down yesterday
It doesn’t mean it’ll rise back up

 

There is something amazing about the fact, that there is nothing that will always be ours,  that we will never lose. There really could be nothing! When a person realises this, he will cross a very important line in life, which runs relentlessly between complaining about the lack of something and gratitude for the resource. It is absolutely essential.

The next step goes further and makes us not only see what we have and focus less on what is not there, but also notice that it is really all we need. God has not lost control over our reality, He cares in detail that ultimately what happens to us leads us to holiness. The thought of having everything we need just here and now is very liberating!

But there are two other wisdoms to this chorus. No matter how much the foundations of our lives shake, no matter what happened, what died, what was born, what was lost and what was found … we still are ourselves. To the depths of our being, to the centre of our spirit and soul. Nothing can change it, even if external circumstances try to prove the opposite. And with the same certainty, there is always Someone next to us – the One with a capital S; The one who calls himself “I am”. The awareness of His presence is truly breathtaking, it opens the heart and eyes, ensures safety, but also an incredibly crazy adventure. It is thanks to Him that where others see nothing, we can see EVERYTHING.

Coming back from a long journey

“In this new experience of the world being so small, triste post iterum certainly plays its part, the sadness after the journey that we experience when we return home after an intense long journey. (…) Then, having put our suitcases in the hall, we ask: Is that all there is? Is that what it is? So that was it? ” (Olga Tokarczuk – Nobel Prize winner, “The tender Narrator”)

And what sadness must it be when you come back from a journey that was supposed to be forever? Then unpacking your suitcases is even more difficult, because you are not sure if you came home or if there is no home anymore? Or maybe, if home is where the heart is, then it is still where it was – in the very core of the Heart of God?

How do I get back from a trip that lasted 9 years? How do I not lose what is valuable and at the same time not get stuck in dwelling on the past? It surely takes time for God to heal a broken heart and shattered dreams. I know He’ll build something wonderful out of these pieces, but it’s not that easy to believe when I see them lying strewn into tiny pieces. What is left is Hope that never dies, an unbreakable Faith in the Promise and the certainty that it is ultimately all about Love, so nothing else really matters…

Travelling not only educates but also changes lives. There are several trips from which I have not returned the same. Surely this, quarter-of-my-life long one,  is one of them. In my consecrated life I am suspended somewhere between “I am no longer” and “I am not yet” and I do not know where this will lead me, but I know that I am walking with Jesus, and since He is the Way, I cannot get lost.

See you on the trail! 🙂

p.s. This might seem like the first entry on this blog, but don’t be fooled by appearances. A blog with a long history, dating back not only to the beginnings of my religious life, but also to a year’s stay in Kenya, can be found at https://siostraewa.blog.deon.pl/. Unfortunately, something went wrong there with the language option, so there is no translation 🙁

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