In Auschwitz, I am told there is a lone Paschal candle in cell block 13 where St. Maximilian Kolbe died giving his life to save a fellow prisoner. A stark reminder of the powerful witness of martyrdom of this priest but also a reminder of the millions lost in such a place.
When in Poland, our group will visit Auschwitz and that very same cell block.
As I imagine what this experience will be like for me personally, I find myself recalling and praying overt the words in the first chapter of John's Gospel: "...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
Over the last few days as I hear of the horror and true evil I see unfolding in our country and worldwide, I just keep whispering these words to myself: "No Lord, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it."
It is a prayer welling deep inside my heart.
I am heart sick in so many ways of the evil and pain I see in the world, especially in the last few weeks as I prepare to take a journey of peaceful prayer with young people.
I cry for those hurting, angry, and frustrated.
I cry over my own sinfulness and faulty perceptions of others.
Racism. Bigotry. Hatered. Terrorism. Hurtful words. Death. People suffering greatly.
Sometimes it honestly is too much to even turn on the local or world news.
To me, that lone Paschal candle in cell block 13 represents the grave reality of our world right now. Our world is in darkness. Yes it is broken and sinful. And yes, people around the globe are suffering immensely.
But no matter the darkness, the light always shines in the darkness and will never be overcome.
The light of radical compassion will break through. The light of mercy, grace, forgiveness, will always prevail. The light of justice, truth, and humility will break through.
Jesus is that light but we are commanded to be that light as well.
I feel like I want to carry so many people and situations in my heart as we journey to Poland.
I carry in my heart all the pain, frustration, and crazy going on in our own country; for healing and honest dialogue in these painful realities. I want to carry people dealing with horrific trauma and loss from senseless killings.
Personally, I carry to Poland all of what the last year of my life has entailed. I carry those I still need to forgive and give them in love to the Father. I carry my former spouse, whom I pray for frequently.
And I carry all that God has been teaching me about myself and my identity in Him.
A pilgrimage presents an opportunity to pray for and offer up the journey for other people back at home. It is a way to unite what I am experiencing with those across the ocean back home.
There is a lot to bring before God in our world and individual lives today. And I am looking at the coming days in Poland as an opportunity to just pray for the light to break through, and shine in the darkness of our hearts and in our world.
Hit me up with an e-mail if you have any prayer requests!
I'd be honored to carry you too over our pilgrimage :)