IN THE HEART OF THE CHURCH
“Trust God, He has a better plan for you”
One phone call asking: “Sister, could you help work in Żerniki, where the women are infected with the virus? ‘ My answer was, “Yes, I would like to.” I know the house in Żerniki and I worked with disabled children, so for me the work did not scare me, but I had thoughts in my head about how it would work meet these ladies, their names and take care of them? Who else will help? Will there be employees? Despite these questions bothering me, I had peace in my heart and joy that I will be able to help and trust that God will take care of everything. Many of us seem to have a hard time, struggling with some difficulties every day, we complain, we do not have something, that our superiors “tell us to do something” or they also decide for us in certain matters. Sometimes I also complain, every day little things grow into big problems, some limitations which dictates the religious life whether the superiors are “burdensome”. The reality I found after arriving in Żerniki, it allowed me to change at some things in my life otherwise.
The people I took care of endure everything with great patience, without more complaining and resistance, although their everyday life does not fill us with optimism. Our pupils do not have much influence on how this day will run. They depend almost entirely on their guardians – someone has to help them dress, help to the toilet, feed them or even go to the doctor and explain what hurts. The caregivers choose what to eat and what shoes they have for them what kind of deodorant to use. I must admit that it is sometimes hard physically and emotionally. We work for 12 hours a day, in overalls, masks, shoe covers, exercising same activities every day. Routine, fatigue, inner struggle so as not to complain. What gives strength? Unity and mutual cooperation, an interview with sisters, sharing joys and difficult things, mutual help. One smile of the student, without front teeth – real, sincere; look straight in the eyes, from a person who cannot speak, a gesture of nodding his head in evidence gratitude for the meal served, for help in bathing; hug, rest her head on my shoulder with the words “sister I love you” – he can compensate for ones painful legs and fatigue, all the toil. Another time, a girl who comes by after breakfast and gives me a drawing with the image of Merciful Jesus, under which she wrote herself “Jesus, I trust in You” – the tears came to my eyes. Think – Jesus is with me, I have to trust, He is here among these girls, he is in them, He gives strength. One day, during lunch, I notice a moment when one of the women holds the bowl to the less able friend who was sitting next to her, helping her to take the soup. It might seem like an “insignificant gesture”, but how it touched my heart. From them you can learn to be sensitive and perceive the needy.
When I feel tired, have a headache after work, I look at the girl who walks with the image of Jesus, she stares at it, kisses with great tenderness. It makes me wonder how my love for Jesus is. You may ask yourself: Where is God in all of this? After all these women are sick, doomed and dependent on others. Well, it’s in all of these situations, small gestures, in a smile, in a look, in children’s joy, sensitivity.
It is not always the way we plan, invent or dream. You can rebel, get angry, complain, but you can also look for meaning in change plans of your life, adapt to the new situation, because everything it is God who knows better what is best for us. The time spent between these women is one of the most beautiful moments in the last months of my life.
Message, thought, moment… and decision
The world of people with disabilities has always been with me. In the family home, in School…
But never so much when after the first year of life with my nephew diagnosed with disability. The call to God echoed. So and faith weakened, followed by the question of the “sense” of calling. Is it really a way of life monastic, since God … so absent.
I don’t think the smile, joy and love that this child brought into our family’s life allowed to doubt until the end. I quickly discovered in it “a different, spiritual world” – beautiful and inaccessible even to me – a nun.
Time passed and a lot happened. Sometimes I was able to help my sister in accompanying her and her son in subsequent hospital stays. In Wrocław in the hospital in the neurological ward, I met a boy with a beautiful smile, and a snow-whiteblonde hair, with an extremely severe, painful disease. Everyone was talking to me that it is “Sisters child.” I was surprised and I asked: “what is it?” It turned out to be a boy from our home in Piszkowice. Such a little creature has stolen my heart again. Yes, it was “my child” – our sisters, my sisters from Piszkowice. This the short meeting remained firmly in my heart.
When there was a request for help at home in Piszkowice in August because of the virus, it was obvious to me that I wanted, even had to. Unfortunately
the circumstances in which I received this message made it impossible for me to help “immediately”. When the Provincial Sister asked for help in our home in Żerniki … Oh … “they are not children anymore”, it was in my head. It was harder for me to make a decision as soon as before. Not even now I can fully explain how it happened that I am here. I don’t think so I analyzed and did not ask for details of the work. Well. I will. And that’s it. I was glad to hear about the sisters who were to be there with me. We like each other meet in our “senior” group. The first moments of our joint work – white foils, which we had to wear awkwardly from head to toe, mask and gloves… they were holding our breath. And how to work in it …? Not at all like to stand in front of a sick person in foil …? 12 hours of work every day, Saturday, Sunday and the awareness that no one will name us yet, that we were left alone in foreign land, home, work, people. Those were difficult moments.
The first day of work in these clothes, as I call them – lasted ages. But it came the first evening and the joy of being able to download it and the prospect rest…. This joy was short-lived because a new joy came …
Evening and a half-night meeting with the Sisters. We did not know how to “talk”. So many thoughts, so many things. We shared our fears and fears with what was ahead of us and the “How…? How can we do it? So many new things to work with these women. We didn’t remember anymore most of the information – who sleeps where, whether they are “mixed”, are they calm … One of the sisters interjects with the question “is M pampers smaller than L? “And many others…, but one thing was sure in each us, was the prayers of our sisters and the certainty of God’s presence, because “where two or three are in My name, there I am among them” Mt 18:20
The next days were meeting time. Time to meet God himself. Live present in our midst and in each of us. God present above all in our sick girls. I felt that I was making friends with girls. That I hug, ever stronger, more honest and that I want their good from my heart. God is so close here, at your fingertips. Through someone’s washed face, through dinner served, washing the floor… Every smile and gesture of these women. “Sister, I love you,” repeats Agnes, an inhabitant of the local house. At first, I usually heard these words, then I felt them inside me they live as they also become mine … “I love you Agnes … I love you Girls…”.
In the church, they are her heart, It can be a hand, a leg … but they are the most important ones and precious part of her that touches God’s heart.
“O Lord, I love the house where you live and the place where your glory dwells” Ps. 26.8
This fragment accompanied me when I started volunteering in Żerniki. We prayed with Him during the noon prayers of the breviary. After arrival, Looking at the women who were here, I knew that this place, God was here. It is His home and I can be here. Working in this place teaches me to respect handicapped and sick women mentally. There are women with whom contact is limited: they won’t talk, won’t show, about what they mean. And one of the sisters says: they understand a lot. They are the people who deserve tremendous respect, treatment with dignity: in words and gestures. I can see being among them, like our joy, openness towards them inspires their trust, kindness, as it helps to nurture and care for them. When I met them their names became even closer to me. The initial horror of “if I can” is gone fast. We entered the rhythm of this house, which is determined here by caring for women: feeding, dressing, washing. I like the smile of these women, their laughter, I feel their gratitude, I can see how eagerly they are with us. We accompany women in their joy, sadness and fear – all of us in these feelings we’re similar. Women need so little – tenderness and an open heart, someone who looks kindly, hugs and stays with them. For them, the world is not important material, (although, like many women, they enjoy a nice blouse, beads around their necks). This to me shows that man is relational. What a person longs for the other, by touch, by a real presence. The experience of presence is strength, safety, love, this is what these women show me so touching. I’m not the only one for them, but they too for me. Being with women teaches me what is gentleness and humility. We are similar when we say the word “mama” with tenderness. Many women, even those who speak little, often repeat the word “mama”. It’s so touching that a mother is always the one closest to you. It is written deep within their hearts. Here I meet the richness of their hearts. One of the women says, “I don’t have mamma, but I have the Mother of God who is in the chapel”.
I do not know where the strength to work in me comes from, it is another day of duties after 12 hours a day. I see it as a gift. This time now is such an enrichment for me. I am glad to see my sisters with whom I can be here together. I can see how the joy of being together favors productive work, the work is smooth, and we have a lot of fun. Here all other problems fade away.