It turned into Ground Hog Day again but I’m starting to like that movie better and better because of what happened by getting up so early this morning. Not only did the daylight coming into the room wake us up, but some annoying, light and constant thumping noise that seemed like it was directly in our room.
I went to the front desk after I had gone down to the Spa to see if someone was down there making the noise but found the door locked. I dragged the front desk girl to our room so that she could hear the loud and irritating thumping. She didn’t know what it was either. It was 5:30 A.M. when the thumping and light woke us up. I walked outside to listen because Susan thought that they might be doing some road work. But I didn’t hear anything. As I turned to come back into the room off of the patio deck, I noticed that all of the hotel rooms HAD THEIR SHUTTERS DOWN … I didn’t say anything to Susan as I went back into the room. But I found and hit our “shutter button” as our room darkened and the two of us cracked up with laughter. Last night, we both felt with our “see-thru” drapes, we were in a fish bowl. But, this morning and even without realizing we had shutters, the thumping would have awoken us. Susan and I sat in the room and talked about a couple of things and she worked a bit on our real estate closing for Friday.
I said to Susan … “There is a 7AM Mass at the Basilica … there is no coffee here yet and the thumping continued” so we decided to go to Mass which was less than 5 minutes away.
At Mass, right before Communion, this man came and sat in the pew in front of us in panic. He started talking to me very quickly in Polish and he was frantic. I kept telling him that I did not understand … that I spoke English. Susan and I got up to go to Communion and disregarded the man because we had no idea what he was saying.
After Communion and the Final Blessing, the Presider proceeded behind the Altar and the small Congregation of Pilgrims began to approach the Altar so we got up to follow them. The “frantic man” carrying a bag of fresh bread, approached me again and it appeared he was trying to get me to follow him to the back of the Basilica … we had not even seen him go to Communion. So we decided to “ignore” him and proceeded up to the Altar.
The Blessing of all Blessings … as we followed the pilgrims to the Altar Area, we saw as the Priest removed the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady from her place above the Altar and he brought it down into the Sanctuary so that we could all proceed … one by one … to venerate Her.
It was “amazing and wonderful”.
When the veneration was completed, Susan and I headed toward the Side Chapel in front of Our Lady with the Special Intention Book & Candles. All of a sudden, the “Man with the Bread” sort of leaped out from behind one of the pillars and frantically tried to talk to us in Polish once again. We had no clue. He finally made a gesture as if he were driving a car. Susan and I immediately thought something must have happened to our car so we followed him out of the Church. When we turned the corner to where we were parked directly in front of the Basilica. There, sitting on top of the car, was my CAMERA CASE … I had our camera around my neck. I laughed, turned around to thank him and shook the man’s hand as I went to retrieve the camera case from atop Jag. In the meantime, Susan was standing on the Church steps with him and was trying to tell him we did not understand Polish. She said “American”, “English”, and finally “Statov” (States). The man shook his head, smacked himself with the palm of his hand on his forehead and he finally understood we were “Americans”. This “man with the bread” was truly our “Angel of the Day” for he waited for us inside and outside the Church for over ½ hour to be certain that we did not lose our camera case that I had left on top of Jag. What a great Samaratan! I hope his bread was still fresh.
After stopping our laughter, we returned to the Basilica and Susan wrote in the Special Intention Book, I lit a candle for all of you and we offered all of Your Special Intentions, as well as ours, to Our Lady!
After this chain of early morning events and without a drop of coffee beforehand, I quickly drove back to our hotel and we went immediately to the Dining Room for our first cup of coffee (and others to follow) and a delicious breakfast buffet. We took a couple of cups of coffee back to our room and sat and relaxed on our patio for a while since it was a beautiful morning and we had planned a couple extra hours here.
As we were sitting there, the pilgrimage bus driver that was there last night was walking down to his bus and he was carrying a small bag over his shoulder and his overnight bag. He was a “very large man” and it hit us, all of a sudden, that the bag over his shoulder was probably a sleep apnea machine that he must have placed on the floor of his hotel room last night (right above us) which had caused the constant and aggravating thumping that woke us up this morning. We had to laugh because someone really wanted us up and awake to attend Mass this morning between no window drapes and the thumping noise which got us to early Mass … and we were very grateful for the “interventions”.
We spent a couple of leisurely hours in our hotel room just catching up on work, our closing, emails and, of course, my trip reports. I went down to the concierge to pay our bill and the girl at the front desk was on the new shift but she knew about the early morning “thumping” and she apologized, telling me that it might have been noise from their pool. She was concerned but I told her it was okay and that I explained that we figured out it had been one of the guest’s “breathing machines”. How could anyone be upset after the incredible experiences we had this morning?
We returned to the Basilica on our way out of town, because we wanted to see their Museum of Historical Miracles, the Apparition and the very ancient votives of thanks (ex votos) to Our Blessed Mother for cures which, back then, were presented in paintings. There was also an animated Scene of Bethlehem that we had learned about and wanted to see. We stopped at the Museum Gift Shop and asked the woman if it was open (in our limited Polish, of course). She motioned that she was the Guide to the Nativity Scene. It was very expensive for the tickets … 25 cents per person!
She took us to the basement of the Kapilica (Chapel) and turned on this tremendously detailed animation featuring the Birth of Christ. It took you through pre-historical times … to Adam and Eve … to the Birth of Christ … and to Present Day. There were thousands of illustrations and moving figures and sounds … it was great and so well done. What a fabulous idea!
Having accomplished all that we had planned to at the Basilica here (and more), it was time for us to drive across the river and over to the Mountain Walk with the Stations of the Cross where, half way up the mountain, Mary’s Well was to be found. It is known as a Miraculous Water Spring of Our Blessed Mother. With only two layers of clothes on today because it was so nice and with jackets in hand just in case the weather changed, we began our ascent. We prayed our Rosary instead of the stations since we were not going all the way. It was only half way up the mountain to the Well which was only around a ½ mile so how hard could it be?
Three times we almost quit our ascent. It was so rocky and steep at points. My knee was giving out, my hip was hurting and Susan’s feet were starting to bark … as were mine (I really should have worn my sneakers again today). Feeling the rocks hard on my feet through my soft shoes truly helped me understand some of the suffering Jesus went thru for us.
The last time we were about to turn around the “Second Angel of the Day” appeared … and Susan asked a man on a bike about the Well. He was of German accent and he communicated that it was not too far up the mountain.
Susan suggested that we continue to go up a bit further and she said “they need walking sticks here”. As I started to walk up again after her comment, there on the ground in the bush was a large stick … I kicked it and it looked pretty good but I couldn’t bend down to get it. So Susan walked back down the path from where she was and picked it up for me to use … it was perfect! Walking got so much easier but the pain was still there.
We proceeded once again up the mountain not knowing what the man on the bike meant by “not too far” and we saw, from a distance, the Cross of Jesus and the top of a small building. I knew, then, that we were almost there.
We arrived at “Mary’s Well” and we were both in pretty bad pain. When I entered the Shrine of the Well, I got water to put on my knee and even over my head to cover my entire body. The water was cool and crisp. We both drank from the Well, refreshed ourselves and filled the bottle with some Holy Water to bring home with us.
Before we departed, Susan went over to look at the map that was there and, on it, it showed two different colored pathways … the “Medium Difficult” and the “Very Difficult” … we realized we had just done the “Very Difficult”. We had noticed on the way up, a fork in the road not too far from where we were at the Well. We had heard several children running down that road on our climb and we had laughed that possibly there had been an easier way up. The sign confirmed it and that’s the way we headed on the way down.
So much easier was this path but also so much longer, maybe a 1 ½ miles. This was only the second time I sweated in Poland this trip, the second shirt wasn’t necessary. We were going on 3 hours in the mountains. Almost all the way down we met 2 Ursuline Sisters and had a wonderful conversation with them. They walk to the Basilica to their monastery every day which is up the path we just came from. God Bless them.
When we got to the bottom we needed a beer so we went to the outdoor rest there that serves all the rafters that come here and there are many. Getting up after we finished our beer was another story, the pain was intense for both of us, you name it hurt except for my knee which hasn’t hurt since, but we wouldn’t change it for anything. Even though we act like kids at times, today made us realize our limitations. This gets a little harder every year and we are not getting any younger.
Getting into the car was no picnic but we managed and headed out for our overnight hotel in Prudnick about an 1 ½ hours away. It wasn’t bad except for the bumps in the road and we arrived around 4. We had stopped for food so we didn’t have to go out and could just chill in our room.
The room was on the 1st floor but we still had to drag the luggage upstairs. It took 3 trips just to get the necessities. The room was small because our room was bigger on the 2ndfloor but we were not going there. This was a nice facility but Susan had to crawl over the bed if I was at the desk. We dined on a large sandwich we put together and it was delicious. We finished what we needed to and popped some heavy duty pills for pain and went to bed. There were black out curtains and it was almost 9:30 so we will see what happens tomorrow. That’s all I remember.
God bless all of you
Susan & Tom
Dear God, today, I offer to you all the suffering I experience, in union with the sufferings of Jesus. May Your Light and goodness mollify the pain in my being, soothe the sorrow in my heart, and lift the darkness from my mind and weakness from my will. Amen.