It Got Personal

After he finished saying his prayers, he left the church. It was another beautiful evening and he smiled as he made his way across the field. Clara was already there. “Hello,” he said.

She smiled. “Hello. Here’s the book,” she said, handing it to him. “And I brought a couple of unused Bibles.” She showed him the bag before putting it under the tree.

“Thank you.”

“My grandmother says hello.”

“Please say hello to her for me and thank her for her generous donation to the church’s relief fund. The money will help so many families in need.”

“My grandmother loves to give. I think that’s one of her spiritual gifts. At the heart of her is a godly love of others not matter who they are. She believes in loving your enemies, being kind to those who are unkind and ungrateful.”

“Your grandmother is in a class all her own.”

“Yes, she is.”

“I hate to ask this but what will you do when she passes away?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it. I pray that she will be around for a long time.”

“I hope so too.”

“Do you miss Poland?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Which part are you from?”

“I’m from the historical city of Zamosc. It’s 60 kilometres from the Ukraine border.”

“Did you ever visit Ukraine since you were so close to it?”

“No. When I was Zamosc, I didn’t want to go anywhere, except Rome. I always planned to visit Rome after I graduated from university.”

“I would like to visit Rome and other parts of Italy one of these days. Tell me more about Zamosc. What was life there like for you?”

“It was good for my family and me. After school, I used to go all over the place and sometimes get into trouble for going home late for supper. I especially liked going to The Rynek. It’s a market place. I would spend hours there just watching the tourists and in the shops. I liked to visit the different churches. The cathedral in Zamość is one of the most spectacular Renaissance churches in Poland. It was established by the city’s founder, Jan Zamoyski and it was designed by Bernardo Morando an Italian.  In the floor of the Chapel of Transfiguration of Jesus, also known as the Ordynacka Chapel or the Chapel of the Zamoyski family, there is a tombstone of Jan Zamoyski, where his ashes are buried. What fascinated me was the Baroque main altarpiece which dates back to 1783-85 and a painting of the patron saint of the cathedral, St Thomas the Apostle standing before the Resurrected Christ. That painting was the reason why I visited the Cathedral as often as I did.”

“Aside from visiting churches, what else did you do?”

“The first time I went hiking in Bialowieza Forest, I felt as if I were Trespassing in paradise. At any minute I expected to see an angel suddenly appear and bar my way with a flaming sword.”

She laughed. “I would have liked to see your face if that happened.”

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He chuckled. “I would probably be like the guards posted outside of Jesus’ tomb. They shook in fear and became like dead men.”

“Tell me more about the forest.”

“It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. It’s named after the Polish village of Białowieża which located in the middle of the forest and is believed to be the site of one of the first human settlements in the area. Apparently,  Władysław II Jagiełło, the King of Poland who ruled the country from 1386 to 1434 enjoyed going there on his hunting trips. The forest has many individually named oaks and is home to European bison and other wildlife. I have seen some bison, a fox, a wolf and a stag. Of course, I kept my distance.”

“Poland sounds like a very interesting place. Why did you leave it to come to England?”

“After I graduated from high-school, I decided that I wanted to come to England and study. I studied at Boston College. That’s where I met my friend, Bernard. We were thick as thieves. We had a bucket list of things we wanted to do together before we married beautiful English women but I got called into the priesthood. The last time I saw or heard from him was a year ago. I hope he’s doing well.”

“It must have been a shock for him when he found out that you were a priest.”

“Yes, it was but I hope that by now he has come to accept it.”

“What about your family?”

“They were happy for me.”

“Sometimes we have to make decisions which are best for us even if it means giving up other things that used to be so important to us–like dreams and friends.”

“Giving up these things seem so insignificant when in exchange, you gain Christ.”

“Yes. As the hymn says, you can have all the world but give me Jesus.”

“There are so many lost souls out there who need Him. It’s my duty to bring as many as possible to Him through His Word and community service.”

“When it came to reaching the masses, Jesus had a timeless approach which is the perfect example for us to follow. Instead of merely telling people that God loved them He showed them. For Jesus, love was an action not just a sentiment.”

He smiled. “Yes. And we know that the Father loves us because the apostle Paul testified, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus dying on the Cross was the greatest demonstration of His love for us.”

“Yes, love declared should be accompanied by action. Don’t tell me that you love me, show me.”

“Have you ever had someone tell you that he loved you, Clara?”

His question was so unexpected that she blinked. “No.”

“Have you ever told someone that you loved him?”

“No.”

He glanced at his watch. “I’d better be heading back to the church.”

“It–it was nice talking to you and learning about Zamosc.”

“It felt good remembering what life was like in Zamosc.”

She smiled. Then, she took up the bag and held it out to him.

He took it from her. “Thanks for the book and the Bibles.”

“You’re welcome, Pastor Kowalski.”

“Goodbye, Clara.”

“Goodbye, Pastor Kowalski.” She watched him go, thinking that this time, their conversation got personal.

Posted for September 2020 Writing Prompts – #14 – At the heart of her; #22 – In a class all her own; #11 – Trespassing in paradise and #30 – A timeless approach

Sources: Wikipedia; Travel Zamosc Pl; Polonia Travel; Zabytek.Pl; Wikipedia; Depth World; Blue Letter Bible; Wikipedia;

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