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The Most Kissed Man in Poland

December 12, 2014

 The Most Kissed Man in Poland

He had this book                                                                                                                                                                  It was his life story                                                                                                                                                     Something inside him compelled him to share it                                                                                                     with strangers                                                                                                                                                                      Foreign strangers                                                                                                                                                               Speaking in tongues

Struggling to understand

Yet somehow pausing                                                                                                                                                          trying                                                                                                                                                                                listening                                                                                                                                                                          hearing

Some things transcend language                                                                                                                                 borders                                                                                                                                                                   generations

His eyes told a story                                                                                                                                                         They were kind                                                                                                                                                                   Intense                                                                                                                                                                             Pleading                                                                                                                                                                           Hopeful

His hands told another.                                                                                                                                                He’d worked hard.                                                                                                                                                      soldier                                                                                                                                                                                   friend                                                                                                                                                                                    builder of walls                                                                                                                                                                   neighbor                                                                                                                                                                               prisoner                                                                                                                                                                                survivor

breaker of walls                                                                                                                                                                    in so many ways

Three years in a Siberian Gulag                                                                                                                                where hopes meet frozen, awful ends

and still his eyes were kind                                                                                                                                             hopeful

We met him at the back fence                                                                                                                                   behind his house                                                                                                                                                                  in the former Warsaw Ghetto                                                                                                                                      He’d stood there for years                                                                                                                                        waiting for those who’d listen                                                                                                                                    who’d hear

He had this book                                                                                                                                                                his life story                                                                                                                                                                          his life                                                                                                                                                                                 ninety-three years of it                                                                                                                                                   kind eyes                                                                                                                                                                         strong hands


How could you not want to hear?

The book was the story of a soldier                                                                                                                                  prisoner                                                                                                                                                                                friend                                                                                                                                                                                 survivor                                                                                                                                            teacher                                                                                                                                                       preacher                                                                                                                                                                           ambassador                                                                                                                                                                         the most kissed man in Poland

Why tell us?                                                                                                                                                                      Why tell strangers?                                                                                                                                                         pride?                                                                                                                                                                   enlightenment?                                                                                                                                                        loneliness?                                                                                                                                                                        Fear?

Fear that his story would remain untold?

How could a man that’s seen what he’s seen have any fear left?

He had this book                                                                                                                                                                 We heard his story                                                                                                                                                            We carry it with us                                                                                                                                                      Maybe that’s why                                                                                                                                                               He was the most kissed man in Poland

He had a small black podium built into the fence for his book  His stage                                                                                                                                                                                 It was a huge book                                                                                                                                                        There was a stack of them

We all have stories                                                                                                                                                       Maybe we all need a book

Maybe we all need a stage

a place to preach                                                                                                                                                                  to teach                                                                                                                                                                                   to share                                                                                                                                                                                  to unload

Maybe we all want to be the most something.

photoIn June 2014, Minooka TAP toured the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw, Poland.  While we were there, our tour was interrupted for a while when some of us met a little old man standing at his back fence holding a gigantic book.  We had a few Polish speakers in the group, and when they struck up a conversation with him in his own language, his eyes lit up.  He tries every day to share his book, his story, with tourists who walk the same route through the old ghetto day after day.  The stories he told us were beyond moving. At one point he told us that he’d been sharing his stories for years, and that he was the most kissed man in Poland.  I gave him a kiss.  How could I not?

Sometimes its not about the famous landmarks, the historical sites, or the amazing works of art.  Sometimes it’s just about the people you meet.  

Those are the best sometimes.

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