In the Hearth and In the Afterglow, There Is Always LightDec 26, 2021
I love the days after Christmas. The re-settlement into a new normal, whatever that is, is peace.
My friend & colleague Tami shared an article with me on Christmas Eve that suddenly transported me through time & space to the 2 years I lived in Poland as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English. That was one of the most transformative times in my life. And it wasn't easy. It was 1991, the Berlin Wall had recently fallen, & we were some of the first Westerners to set foot in that country. Back then Poland was a mix of Europe, Russia, Slavic, European, East, West, Communism, New Democracy...It was so miraculous and beautiful, and also austere and so very different. The contrasts.
Life is contrast. Love is contrast.
We arrived in summer and it was incredibly green & gorgeous. It's one of the most fertile, verdant places in the world. In fact, Pole means farm. Poland IS a bread basket. It was named Poland because of its rich soils. Polska. How I still love Polska.
And yet because of the austerity of the Communist regime, and because I only knew Poland through the lens of WWII films of war and destruction, all black and white...I was so shocked to find it NOT black and white. I remember that so.
Isn't that interesting? I had a pre-conceived notion about an entire country because of what I had been shown in school, media, film. But it wasn't until I stepped into it and began my own experience, did I reap the incredible blessings of what and who Poland IS, on the inside. Anyone who travels knows this.
The people. The people. The people. They are beyond words. They have survived, and they thrive. These people have endured some of the harshest experiences on the entire planet. They are still enmeshed in unspeakable difficulties even right now along their borders just because of where they are situated, and that has so often been the very problem--caught between Russia and Europe, in a way.
And yet, they have this extreme inner strength and beauty, and they have literally re-created their country from ashes and pain that Hitler brought. From shame. From so much death. From the abyss.
They are so beautiful. They still love. They joke. They create magnificent art. They flourish. They are survivors.
This is what it means to be human. My Polish friends taught me so many new ways to see life. I didn't want to leave. I had found a home.
I want to return even now and my daughter Lily just asked if we can go there next summer. I pray we can make that happen as I have so many things to show my kids about this place that transformed me.
And this is what I have been pondering over the holiday:
The secret is within.
There is always light. Always hope. Always a way out. Because we are creative, resilient humans, and because we are Loved by some kind of divine force that I can't even fathom and yet know it to be real. Polska proves this to be so.
The world is crazy. It's unpredictable. It can be austere and tragic. It can be so many things. But again and again, what matters most is on the INside. Inside of US.
I got to go in to Poland to discover the magic and wonder. And oh, it was. The memories I have from there are like a rainbow.
On our own soul journeys, we also get to go inside to find the treasures. As many gifts as were bestowed in my home yesterday, it's always going to be my heart, and the hearth fires within my heart, that keep the glow for me. It's not the outer reality. It's not the things.
In my heart Is where the peace is. That's where the truth and treasure are found.
Polish homes are some of the warmest places I have ever been blessed to be. Poles made their homes their sanctuaries. They had no other choice. But that is the result of it all. And frankly, how beautiful.
Nourish your hearth fire, in your home, and in your heart. Nurture it. Stay true to your truest self. And when you do, that fire lights up even brighter. That's where the glory is. That's where Spirit meets you and has the power to truly transform you.
May your hearth be aglow through this winter season so that when the colors return in springtime, you're already there, already ready for whatever that new season brings.
With the Love of the Christ Light that is also You,
And I'd totally encourage you to read this incredible story about Poland.
What a marvelous wycieczka that was.
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