Thursday, August 18, 2011

'Hurry up, hurry up!' I told my coffee as it steeped. I plopped the last scone into a bag and tried to zip my rucksack singlehandedly. I hoped those goodies would be eaten quickly; there were too many things in my backpack that I had not yet been able to put in the truck transporting our heavier baggage, so I wanted to lighten the load as soon as possible. Ah, five minutes was up, and I began drinking what would be my last cup for at least several days, lingering over each sip even as I eyed my toothbrush.

The sky outside was heavy and overcast. There would be no magenta dawn this year. No matter, I could settle for a rose-hued orb against grey velvet. Checking my plugs, extinguished candles, and gas for the eighteenth time, I finally went running for the bus.

Though twenty and a half miles lay ahead of me, I could not sit down once aboard. Laying my bag in one of the many empty seats at 5:30 AM, I folded my arms and pondered.

What are you doing this year?
I'm going to pray. There you are.
What are you asking for?
I smiled. Reposing in my heart was a strong regard for the intentions of all whom I had known and especially those dear to me. I also planned on carrying up the burden of every soul that watched the procession (friendly or hostile) on the way. However, I was not going to petition for them. I had made the consecration of slavery to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and thus had foresworn the right to ask for anything in such a direct manner.

A priest once chided me in confession for this very literal interpretation of St. Louis de Montfort's consecration, but my own reason could not find in the saint's adamant language any room to maintain petitions at my personal discretion. I was to be a slave and to offer what I had to the Queen, who would present them fittingly before the King and ask Him for the favours she wanted. If I
craved something, I could but look upon it, and hope that she might think my desire worthy enough to carry before the throne. For example, I might wish my fast to be offered up for a political crisis, or the pain in my heart to ease that in a sister's, or my rosary to strengthen the sinews of a friend's felicity, yet the Mother of God might use these prayers for something quite different.

In childhood, there were many times when I may have presented a sweet or a flower to my mother, who in turn gave it to a crying sibling. I was always quite put out whenever she had usurped the direction of my gift and to someone who did not deserve it either! However, mothers have a tendency to give blessings to those who merit them least. Understanding that tendency, and in my pride wishing to direct any spiritual works of mercy I might do, I had resisted the consecration from age 13 to 26. A year after having made it though, I was now receiving the consolations of the promise.

'Dear Lady, you know what is near to my heart and all that I long for, but you'll ask the Lord what you think is best for me, and I shall not open my mouth. This year, I promise to relish the peace and joy of the pilgrimage and seek nothing beyond. I ask for--I hope for--nothing.' I clenched my hands, hoping I earnestly meant what I was thinking, and hopped off the bus.

Our assembly must have been a bit smaller than the year before; I was surprised to find a place in a pew at Mass. We piled our rucksacks in the back and knelt with the keen readiness of soldiers at the Sacrifice. When Mass had been said and the Holy Eucharist distributed, I took a moment to read the Vespers' hymn for the Feast of the Transfiguration:

Quicumque Christum quaeritis, All ye who seek full longingly

Oculos in altum tóllite: For Christ, lift up your eyes on high:
Thank you Marzena!
Illic licébit vísere There may ye see the vision bright,
Signum per
énnis glória. Th' eternal Son, in glorious light.

'O Lord!' I whispered, my throat already choaking and my eyes stinging. Gazing up at the icon of the Black Madonna above the altar, I thought, 'Yes. I shall lift up mine eyes to the Bright Mount, and contemplate Him to whom she gestures.'

Leaving the chapel, we were greeted with silver inches from the misty grey dome of heaven. The humidity in the air promised identical weather to that of 6 August, 2010. I am certain all the pilgrims had the same presentiment as the day progressed and that all hoped to find their transported bags drier than themselves at the day's end.

I exchanged greetings with familiar faces, and it was so lovely to reflect that they were known to me. Two children whom I had met from the year before, M. and O. (not at this time wishing to be 'Frodo' and 'Pippin'), seemed delighted that I
remembered their names, and I soon found two ready walking companions who did not much mind my unpolished Polish.

Happily, more pilgrims joined us later, and many more walked with us to the outskirts of Warszawa to see us off. The sun shone, and the rain fell in turn. Yet, this time, when we arrived at our destination, the baggage was perfectly dry. It was also a little blessing to be encamped at the same idyllic homestead as last year.

Yet, I was informed that the man owned it had endured many trials, having lost both his wife and one of his children. He was congenial with the pilgrims and generous with his property, and it seemed a pity that I might not offer up a particular Ave for his sake.

Say one up anyway, and it shall be for someone.

Yes, for whomever it was, this pilgrimage would surely be for someone.


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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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