On the morning of February 24th, I heard the news of the invasion of Ukraine. When I entered the chapel, the words of the apostle Paul referring to the Mystical Body of Christ came to my heart: “if one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain”. We share its pain.
Since the war began, we wanted to help out in this situation and we thought about how we could do our bit. Help was already being organized in our area, so we were able to get involved. At first, we went to the Sopot City Hall. There, together with many volunteers, we prepared sandwiches, sorted donated clothes, received Ukrainians, and helped them process their papers to get residence in Poland.
A few days later a car with Ukrainian flags appeared on our street. It was a rescue car. We left a note on the windscreen to get in touch and it turned out that the car belonged to some of our neighbours who have lived in Poland for a few years now. When the war broke out, they contacted Ukrainian organizations and priests offering their van. They have made several round trips to Ukraine. On the way there they carry clothes, food and medicine; on the way back they bring people. Before the last trip, the young people of our community set out to collect a whole list of things that they needed there and raise money to pay for petrol. It has been amazing just how much they have helped!
During Easter we worked as Charity volunteers at the Przemysl station on the border with Ukraine. It was a place for women and children only. There was a room with a few tables where you could have coffee or tea, and there were some mattresses next to the wall so people could rest. A platform protected with plastic walls had been prepared so that children could run and play. Next door, in the living room, the mothers had their space where they could talk, think, and decide what to do – where, how to continue. At night, both spaces became a bedroom: there were mattresses, blankets and bags everywhere.
Of the two of us who went, my companion understands Russian and Ukrainian and I only speak Polish. So she was with the mothers and I was with the children. We weren`t able to do anything extraordinary, but it was deeply humane. When we asked them, “Where do you come from?” Tears filled their eyes. We experienced silence, closeness, prayer and cordiality. They were running from death and looking for life. There, with each one of them, was God.
God was there!
There were single women with two or three children and a grandmother with nowhere to return and not knowing where to go. They opened their heart and expressed their fears, sadness, uncertainty and gratitude. “THANK YOU”. God was there in the middle! In the afternoon there was a boy with torn boots and wet feet. We washed and dried his feet, and put him on clean socks and slippers… It was a real Holy Thursday feet washing! There we were with God.
In all those purely human gestures of listening, of respect, of company, of making a child smile…there is salvation. We believe that there is Life when we go down with God to share the hell that people are living.We shared its pain. It’s what Jesus himself did. It is a privilege to come to the place where God is present saving. It`s not us, it`s Him. But He counts on our humanity.