Winter journey, eastern melancholy and fado

40 kilometres and 30 minutes drive from the busy downtown, road across the boreal forest of majestic, soaring pines and firs, all covered with thick layer of snow. I can’t imagine a week without a trip to this primeval forest. It is one of these places, where you are not able to believe that God does not exist. Silence, mystery, beauty and emotion, intuition that He is.

But the outskirts of the forest are not less mysterious and beautiful. When you add to all of these melancholic fado flowing slowly from the car speakers and interviewd fado singer Mariza talking about her love of journeys and Portuguese melancholy, it gets just real wonder!


to be continued…

Trip to Polish Tatars

On a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday we resolved to set off to Polish Tatars. There are left only few villages where Polish Tatars still live – Bohoniki and Kruszyniany. Most Tatars after the II World War moved to towns and cities – Bialystok, Gdansk, Gorzow Wielkopolski, Warsaw, and many of them stayed at their homeland – near Nowogordek (presently Belarussia, before the WW II town belonged to Poland).

First Tatars were settled in Lithuania in the 14th century by the Great Prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Witold (Vitaut, Vitautas). Here in Podlasie – in villages – Bohoniki, Drahle, Malawicze, Nietupa, Sanniki, Kruszyniany, Luzany, Studzianka, Lebiedziew, Ortel, Malaszewicze, they appeared in the 17th century. Polish king – Jan III Sobieski settled them in royal villages in exchange for money he should have payed them for their service in royal army, but because of lack of money in state treasury soldier’s pays could not have been paid. Tatars obtained many privileges – they could marry Chrisitan women, obtained nobility and were allowed to preserve their Muslim faith and tradition.

Today about 5.000 Tatars live in Poland, most of them in Bialystok (in the north eastern Poland) – about 2.000 – 3.000, they still confess islam. But it seems that many of them lost their Tatar features – not all have slanted eyes, black hair, olive complexion and high cheekbones. They perfectly integrated into Polish society, their islam is very gentle, moderate and peacful, we can say liberal. Tatar women have equal rights as men, they are not discriminated by their husbands, they can learn, study, work and have equal position to men. Their realtions with other national groups in Podlasie (Poles, Belarussians) apppear to be exemplary.

Below I am presenting pictures taken during last Sunday trip to Kruszyniany.

Mosque in Kruszyniany, bulit in the second half of the 18th century or in the first half of the 19th century.

Mizar in Kruszyniany. Mizar it is the name for Tatar cemetery. Many of tombstones come from the 19th century.

Beautiful pine in the mizar a few hundred years old, it may be as old as whole cemetery, which was established in the second half of the 17th century.

Candle Manifestation in Bratislava

Recently Slovakians were celebrating 20th anniversary of the Candle Manifestation.

On the 25th March 1988 more than 2.000 people gathered in “Hviezdoslavovo nĂ¡mestie” – main square in Bratislava to show their internal freedom, freedom from fear, from communist terror. They held in their hands fired candles.

taken from Slovakian magaizne

In Slovakia opposition was grounded in and supported by Catholic Church, unlike in Czech Republic, most members of Slovakian opposition were catholics, whom supported part of Catholic Church hierarchy. After the Second World War Slovakian catholics were severely persecuted by communist regime.

After the long period of apathy connected to suppressing the “Prague spring” in 1968 – prodemocratic movement on behalf of the real freedom, Slovakian society dared to show their stance toward communist government. They started to demand real religious freedom, preventing the government from interference in the internal matters of the Catholic church and last but not least – obeying the human rights by the state.

picture taken from the website of Slovakian magazine

As in many other similar manifestations in communist countries militia extremely brutally dispersed peaceful demonstration with using truncheons, water cannons, many demonstrators were cruelly beaten. Afterwards Slovakian secret service started apprehensions on a large scale. Many manifestation’s participants were persecuted for their brave behaviour.

picture taken from the website of Slovakian magazine

Let’s pay tribute to all members of that manifestation, all persons engaged in democratic movement and persecuted in Slovakia during communist period.

******* All the pictures above were taken from the website of Slovakian magazine “Tyzden” – http://www.tyzden.sk

Fascination with evil – heights of hypocrisy

Today morning I take a short break and read an interveiw with famous and respected Polish actor. He speaks about his fascination with villains in theatre. Later on journalists recalls actor’s words: “Once You told that for good actor intelligence is only an obstacle and good actor has to be a m…ucker.”

At once I recollected an interview with an American young actress read a few years ago – I do not remember her name and surname – who was talking about one – sidedness and unambiguity of goodness and attractiveness of evil.

Tha fact is, many people consider goodness a boring thing. Undoubtedly in our contemporary culture fascination with evil exists and appears to be strong.

Several times I was even suprised by my friends who stated that evil gives the life taste and colour. But with regard to them I had an occassion to see how they behaved and how they got indignant when some kind of harm or injustice touched them. They were not able to understand how it could happen that evil met just them, raised hue and cry about such an evident insult and injustice, spoke about unethical and immoral behaviour of their evildoer, forgetting thier words about intriguing and healthy dose of evil.

So, for sure, evil is OK, is nice, gives the life taste and colour, makes life bearable and more interesting, but only on condition that does not concern us.

Generation JP II

The anniversary of John Paul II’s death is coming and again – as every year – discussions concerning Generation JP II are going to begin.

I remember the day when Pope died, it was – in some sense – a great day in Poland, almost a kind of feast. People felt united, got kind to each othe, tried to be better. They spontaneously left their houses and met in front of or inside the churches to be together, to pray together, many of them were even unbelievers. That day and some period afterwards people wanted to be together, they wanted to be close and supportive to each other.

It was even a kind of revolution – I remeber that in Bialystok the faith prayed in the cathedral when a priest came and made them leave the church because it was late in the naight, but people resisted him – they told him that church is theirs, not him, and he is not just an official who closes and opens the church. There were more such cases in whole Poland.
Some Polish sociologists and philosopheres proclaimed the existence of generation JP II. Many young people started wearing t-shirts with inscriptions “We are the generation JP II”, many of them named themselves “generation JP II”. It became almost a fashion, but fashion is often shallow, quickly changes and disappears. Unfortunately those enthusiastic declarations did not found reflection in everyday life. For several days, maybe for several weeks people were really better, but shortly after all those positive behaviours started fading, interpersonal relationships worsened and returned to the state as they were before. Still Polish society has the lowest rate of mutual trust (social trust) among European societies – as sociological researches prove.

Sociologists and philosophers declarations turn out to be just a wishful thinking.

Personally I was sceptical about generation JP II. I observed people who proudly called themselves generation JP II and thought it is enough to go to church, to be a member of a spirtual community, attend its meetings, to become a volunteer in a nongovernmental or charity organization, forgetting at the same time about everyday hard work in the field of interpersonal relations, forgetting about being honest, loving, kind, helpful, supportive in boring, everyday situations, not in spectacular ones. Such an everyday improvement in interpersonal relations, in public life, in mutual trust is still absent.

A few days ago I read an interview with a philosopher who told that feast is a short period, that feasts do not occur every day. He tried to convince that improvement in interpersonal relations will come, that too short period has passed to judge if John Paul II’s teaching has really influenced young people.

Let us hope he is right…

Easter wishes for all Bloggers and Readers and for myself

Once agian I have failed – I have not been able to devote proper quantity of my time to deep reflection and good deeds during the Lent. Once again I have not found time to prepare myself to Easter as I would like to and as I should. Too many duties, lack of proper mood resulted in unpreparedness. But I do not want to look for easy justifications.

Fortunately, meaning and aim of the Lent reminded me articles read in a Greek catholik magazine “Slovo” from Slovakia. On the other hand I realize that reading it is not enuogh.

Much earlier I resolved to print from the Internet and read reflections on the Lent of the Russian orthodox priest – Aleksander Mien, who was killed in 1990; but lack of eligible mood made it impossible.

I am sure that next year will be better in this respect.

On the occasion of Easter I would like to wish all the bloggers and readers and also myself Unshaken Belief in Another Person, Real Joy, Deep Peace of Mind and Soul, Inexhaustible Goodness, meeting many good and kind people on our way and Grace of God.

Let us not lose our Hope!

Anneliese Michel

Yesterday on Polish public TV I watched documentary dedicated to Anneliese Michel – a German girl who lived in Bavaria, and who – and here is a real problem – who was possessed or mentally ill?

I must confess that I am a rather moderate rationalist and everything try to explain and understand. When I was a student of Law Faculty in Uniersity in Bialystok I had forensic psychiatry’s lectures. Once we – it means me and my two friends – went to psychiatric hospital in Choroszcz to see how it works in practice. We met our lecturer who became our guide in hospital. We had many conversations, and one of them concerned possession. Our lecturer informed us that psychiatric hospital cooperate with priest – exorcist. I could not understand it, I was convinced that possession does not exist, that it is only unrecognized psychic disorder, psychic illness. I knew that region where I lived was one of the most religious regions in Poland, and its tradition, catholic and orthodox church upbringing which people here obtained influenced also doctors, psychiatrists, they were born here, raised, mainly in catholic or orthodox church families, and thier background must impact them. I did not believe in possession and our lecturer was not able to convince me and my friends.

Yet before forensic psychiatry’s lectures once I attended a meeting with priest – exorcist from Kleosin near Bialystok. He told us a stroy about a girl who was led to him by her parents. She should have been possessed. When she entered a chapel she started screaming, speaking foreign languages which she had never leraned and even languages which had not existed, and her voice was cruelly inhuman, manly and terryfing. Of course I considered it was a psychic disorder which medicine, psychiatry does not know, and has difficulty in disocvering its roots and causes.

But after yesterday’s documentary I started thinking if it is possible that a fragile, delicate, sensitive girl – even if sha was ill – is able to produce such horryfing sounds, voices? Is a human being organism able to create such inhuman sounds, especially a womanly one?

Anneliese was a very religous person, religion was her almost whole life, she probably read a lot of religious books, and maybe all konwledge, all information that she gathered coded itself in her subconscious and during the explosions of her illness some of those things which lived in her subcnoscious let out in the form of frigthening voices, delusions and kind of epilepsy. Maybe, but why none of doctors was not able to treat , to help her?

I think there is a Mystery where a man should give a bow to It.