Last November, two of my friends and I went to Warsaw. We had a free day from school, so we went just because we could. One friend knew Warsaw better than two of us, so she took us here and there, to an elegant coffee shop, then the place with the best ice cream, and we meandered down old streets and posed here and there for photos just for memories, not for being photogenic.
On a whim, she took us into the church where Chopin’s heart is buried. (He died in Paris, but they sent his heart back to his birth country.) Poles are proud of this relic, and can’t understand why most Americans think it’s gruesome and strange.
In the back of the church was a bulletin board and a poster announcing a chorale festival the next week. I took a photo of it with my phone to be able to retrieve the details.
The next week, knowing the time and place of the concert, my friend and I went back to that church to listen to two youth choirs, one from Germany, and another from Sweden. It put me into raptures and we arranged to go to another church the next night to hear the last of the choirs in the festival.
It happened to be a church on the outskirts of Warsaw, and after the girls choir from Russia sang and the next choir on the program didn’t show up, our small group stayed to chat with the priest. He told us this is the oldest church in Warsaw, and his warm, grandfatherly spirit made it easy to talk and ask questions. We asked if we could sing a song for him, and we formed a small half circle and sang “Amazing Grace” in Polish.
As we left, we said to each other, “We have to come back here with Hope Singers!”
In time, the right contacts were made, and August came, and Hope Singers came to the church’s door, but the priest didn’t really remember us and wasn’t sure why we were there. We felt a little unnerved, but certain that we were there for reasons bigger than ourselves.
It was the last program of Hope Singers 2012. The acoustics were good, the small audience warm and responsive, and we prayed to be able to spread light and life to what felt like a dark place. At the end, we stood around the auditorium and sang an African song that carried us away with the words “Satan has no power, he flees far from us, hallelujah!”
It seemed that light had penetrated the place, and the priest told us that he’s never been with Americans where he prayed the whole time. He welcomed us warmly to come back, and that he would publicize it next time.
You never where a whim will take you. That’s why I like them.