Sunday, March 28, 2010

Niedziela Palmowa

The church was full, and not just Polish-church full but Polish-church-on-an-important-day-like-Palm-Sunday full. Every seat of the cavernous church was taken and crowds had filled every available space beside the pews and in the little alcoves to the side. We found a space to stand in, and I settled in for the long haul.

As the mass proceeded, I tuned out the priest's monotone and looked around me at the families and kids holding tightly to their brightly coloured palms. I'm always amazed by the ability of Poles to recreate Poland in Brussels. Someone's doing a good trade in palemki at any rate.

I'm reading the God Delusion at the moment, and have always been a bit on the fence when it comes to the God stuff, but Polish religion has always struck me as such a fundamental part of the nationality, the culture, that philosphical debates about the imponderables of religion tend to seem irrelevant. I have a soft spot for the music and a problem with the intolerance but this is not the time or place to get into that...

We got the bus back and as we turned into our road, a couple of men were just knocking at a door, two children by their sides and hands full of leaflets.

As we approached, one of the men nudged a boy towards us. He came up and thrust a leaflet into my hand. 'Good afternoon Madame,' he said a little nervously. 'here's an invitation, about Jesus Christ' he turned back to his father, who smiled encouragingly. 'Would you like it?' he asked, eyes wide with innocence.

I took the paper and looked at the boy. 'You're wasting your time with us little boy. We've just come back from church. I don't believe the bible word for word, and I believe religion has been responsible for some of the most atrocious parts of the world's history, but overall I have some sympathy for the basic values. My husband here is a full-blown Catholic. I have a problem with Jehovah's Witnesses because they would rather let their children die than make use of modern medical technology, don't believe in celebrating birthdays and don't care about disturbing people in their own homes on Sundays to thrust their views down other people's throats...'

No I didn't.

I took the paper and looked at the boy. 'Do you enjoy this? Would you not prefer to be home with your brothers and sisters playing? Do you believe all this? All this stuff your family tells you about being the chosen ones? If you are the chosen ones, why are you trying to convert more? Don't you lot believe in a certain number of spaces for those who will be saved when judgement day comes? Isn't that you? I can't quite remember everything from my GCSE religious education classes...'

No, I didn't.

I took the paper and looked at the boy. 'Thank you. We can have a look at what it says.' He grinned and skipped back to his father, excited at his success. 'Have a good Sunday' his father called after us as we walked away.

I sighed and we went home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

psychic or crazy...

As we neared the shop door, I noticed the woman coming towards us, leaning heavily on her crutch as she approached. I pushed open the door and she spoke: 'I was here first, you sped up, just because I can't walk fast...' my jaw dropped and I held the door open for her.

'Just joking!' she laughed, 'it was just a joke. Your face was a picture.' I smiled, bemused.

I moved into the shop and waited for Marek to choose his beer.

'You believe everything everyone says?' she asked, from across the shop floor. But before I had a chance to answer, she pose her next question. 'What star sign are you?'

'Scorpio' I answered, an eyebrow raised, fascinated by this strange woman.

She fixed her eye on me. 'Now that's surprising. I wouldn't have guessed that.'

'Really?' I smiled.

'Maybe you were just not expecting a joke. Maybe your mind was elsewhere.' I moved towards Marek and asked if he was almost done.

'Aha!' she cried, handing over her money to the shopkeeper and picking up her shopping. 'I know why, you're in love!'

'Got it in one.' I smiled at her again. I couldn't figure out whether this conversation was a result of drink, drugs or just plain old personality.

'What star sign's he?' she asked, pointing at Marek. When I told her virgo, he fixed me with another intent stare.

'Keep hold of him. He's for life.'

I laughed. 'Just as well, he's my husband.'

'You're married?!' she asked. Clearly another thing she hadn't expected. 'Well, don't listen to your friends, hold on to him. He's for life.'

She moved towards the door and a man held it open for her. Then another thought struck. 'You have any kids?' the man sighed, and slid past her to get out.

'Not yet' I said.

'Well, get ready, they're on their way' she said, a twinkle in her eye.

'September' I confirmed, patting my rounded belly.

'Ah, you see. I could feel it!'

Yes, she certainly has a talent.