One man can change the world

As it has been since history was recorded, in the time which we live today there is much turmoil.
That said, with the passing of Pope John Paul II, we all — Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim and atheist alike, can find and be a vessel of good.
It is not “good” that he has passed, rather that he lived. You don’t have to agree lock stock and barrel with all the man said and did to see he is a man who should be admired. From where he came to what he became is a tremendous story of courage and faith. I believe he is also a role model for all who want to be a part of this modern world. And, while I have thought this for a long time, it wasn’t until I read an e-mail from my wife’s cousin in Poland, that it really hit home.
The letter is from Ewa (pronounced Eva — as I have learned there are no V’s in the Polish alphabet) Kwiatek-Sokolowska. It was to Jennie’s mom, Ewa’s aunt, Maria Cottrell of Independence Township. Ewa is a young woman who is in her twenties.
* * *
Ciocia Marysiu (Aunt Maria),
It was so nice to receive your e-mail. It is very good to know that you are all doing well. I often speak to my mom about you and your family, and we wonder what are you doing at the time we talk.
We are doing OK, spring has finally arrived to Poland and we are having sunny warm days. I cannot say these are happy days — because whole Poland is in mourning after John Paul’s passing away. It is very hard to describe what is really happening because it is in the way people talk, look at each other, behave.
What you can see — almost everyone is wearing black or white colors. Almost every house is decorated with Vatican’s or Polish flag. Shops, malls, cinemas are completely empty. Almost in every family there is someone who is going to be in Rome this Friday (April 8).
In front of every church there are candles, photos of Pope, letters to him. There are spontaneous marches and masses with thousands of people in every city, everyday. We talk almost only about Pope’s journeys to Poland, about funny things he used to say and important things he tried to express.
TV and radio — only classic music and programs about him. What you cannot see — almost everyone cries every day at home or at church. What I cannot believe is that these days many of my friends who haven’t been to church for years, confessed and had Communion.
It is really something unique what is happening now and, Ciocia, I wish you could see and feel it. And what is the most important thing, it is not only about being sad. We are sad of course, on the other hand everyone knows Pope is in a better place now.
It is more like people are awaken now. It is more like we all forgot about him and he had to die to let us realize what he has done for Poland and for everyone here. And it is like everyone wants to express being sorry that we do not live the way he wanted us to. And say to him that we love him very much.
It may sound pathetic, but it is really true. These are in some way wonderful days. I just wanted you to know that.
And I really wish you could be here to feel this solidarity which is so weird, but true.
With many kisses, Ewa
* * *
The man who would become arguably the most recognized man in the world, was the son of soldier. His mother died while he was still a boy. His older brother died young. He was hit by a street car and later in life by a truck. He worked in a stone quarry. He saw his country overrun by Nazis and then communists. He survived an assassin’s bullet. He was the catalyst that helped bring an end to the ‘Cold War.?
One person wrote of him as ‘a resilient enemy of Communism and champion of human rights, a powerful preacher and sophisticated intellectual able to defeat Marxists in their own line of dialogue.?
Yet, just like the rest of us, he was only one person. In this world of billions, one man can make a difference. His touch to his family, friends and community can be one of love and kindness and greatness. As Ewa wrote me later, the Pope was a gift. We all are a gift, maybe not opened.
To my sons and all the sons and daughters who may read this: one man, one woman can change the world for the better, you only need look to Karol Jozef Wojtyla — the man would become Pope.
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