My name is Magdalena. I come from Poland. I appreciate my country but I never feel that Poland is my place in the world. I hope to find this place someday, so I am open to learning about new cultures and about the world in general.
I grew up in a wonderful family. My parents’ love is the most beautiful love I have seen in this world; I always know I am wanted and that my brother and I are the fruits of this beautiful love. I have had a very blessed life.
In Poland I study Psychology. As part of my program, I was required to complete an internship. I did not know that my placement would combine everything I had been dreaming about, such as, practicing English, spending time in a beautiful place, and experiencing the spirituality of the Precious Blood on another continent.
As always, G
od has taken care of my desires and me. He gave me the opportunity to come to the United States and Chicago’s Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. I had no idea what my internship would be like or what I would do there, so my travel was full of fear. Fortunately, God is also in America, and put so many wonderful people in my path (especially the CPPS sisters with whom I live!) so that my fears disappeared in the blink of an eye.
So what do I do in the Center? I am present and I participate. My responsibility at PBMR was to walk with the people I met and get to know their way of living, their mentality, and their stories. Therefore, I was entrusted with the most beautiful duty in the world. Before my arrival, I thought that my psychology background would be helpful in some way and that I would be serving people more than receiving services from others. So when I found myself at PBMR, I felt lost because it was completely the opposite of what I imagined before I came here.
Exactly a month ago I flew to Chicago and now I am already experiencing what I had read and thought about in Poland – living the spiritual life deep in my heart.
Many times in my life I heard the answer to this question: “What is the spirituality of the Precious Blood for you?” The most beautiful answer I heard at PBMR this July: “This is the spirituality that gathers people. Those who are more open invite those who have less courage to come.” This remark refreshed my outlook, because I know it’s not just joining the community, but inviting everyone to join in this common path to the most beautiful place of peace and safety.
Who are the people who have more courage to invite others to this common path? A month ago I would have said they are very well-established Catholics. Today’s words: they are all those who have experienced being invited, wanted, accepted. I have personally experienced how the people who get hurt so badly can beautifully invite others.
I thought that as a well-established Catholic, coming from a wonderful family, having a psychology background, I would initiate a joint trip down this path. I guess I thought I would be a guide, someone important. I had made my best plan to spend time here and I had specific expectations, and it turned out very differently!
I found myself being a psychologist then a patient, student and teacher, sheep and shepherd helper, the one who listens and the one who shares, the one who gives hope and the one searching for hope.
I was a psychologist when I talked to people about their lives, problems, and successes, especially when I was just listening; a patient when the listening was too overwhelming and I needed support myself.
Student: all the time, when I had language problems, when I was asking about culture and customs, when I wanted to understand the stories of people I met, and when I did not know what to order in a restaurant.
Teacher, when people asked me: “How is it in Poland?”, “What is your story?”, “Does your nation still feel the effects of war?” and finally: “Where is your Poland?” I was a sheep who knew she was in the right place and in the right flock, who felt good about other sheep, regardless of whether they were black or white, young or old….
I was a shepherd’s helper who was sitting at the back of the clearing and watching the sheep, thinking intensely about what exactly was missing and helping to see what at first sight I missed. I was also the one who listened when people shared their stories: stories of a brutally murdered beloved child, of a 17-year-old boy being sentenced to death in prison, of a newborn who died after not receiving proper care after birth because of his race and whose body was put in a peanut butter jar.
I heard the story of a black father who loved and cared for his son but whose rights to see his son were taken away by the white mother. I listened to the stories of many people who are constantly traumatized, boys who have been shot several times by the age of 15, who at the same age have become fathers bravely educating their children, boys who have seen so much blood shed that this image will never disappear from their eyes.
I heard the story of a woman whose husband was murdered and she asked the court for the smallest amount of punishment for the perpetrator and the story of a Puerto Rican man who had been shot 15 times, paralyzed, and today is walking once again on his own legs and working to make the area safer.
I listened to the story of a young man who participated in a brutal murder and today is considered a member of the murdered boy’s family. I listened to so many stories of people who have gone so far and have come back hopeful.
I was also the one who shared – with what I had, whether I considered it rich or poor. I was trying to be the one giving hope: hope that life can be beautiful, that not every man/woman/child need struggle with such pain and fear, that everyone deserves a good life because we were called to it, because God created all people to share the beautiful and the good and know happiness.
And finally, I was at PBMR center when two people who were shot in a nearby alley and lay bleeding on the ground. Their cry was not a metaphorical “blood scream”, which we try to hear in Poland. Their sound was the voice of true, untreated suffering, which resulted in surgery and prolonged paralysis.
I experienced all this at the age of 23 by participating in the life of PBMR. I experienced the strength of suffering and realized that it is an extraordinary wealth. I experienced joy, which has its roots in the pain, which makes it only more beautiful and true. I experienced love despite weakness. I experienced a life of reconciliation, which will not be forgotten until the end of my life.