A Major Note From the Author's Life
In the spring of 1996, I decided to make an Easter pilgrimage to Czestochowa, Poland, to see The Black Madonna. I left my daughters in the care of a close friend, Valentina, in Tartu, Estonia, where I was living at the time, and began my journey.
I first traveled to Krakow and visited the concentration camps. Then, according to an American guy named Bob, from Georgetown (who was in possession of the latest version of The Lonely Planet travel guide), the best way to get to Czestochowa, was via Katowitze. I don’t hold anything against Bob. He was doing the best he could do on that train platform with less than one minute (before his train left) to come up with an itinerary for me. Besides, unlike me, he’d managed not to leave his Lonely Planet lying somewhere in the mud in Krakow, when we became totally overcome with emotion over the stories we’d just heard. I found that admirable! But unfortunately our best laid plans didn’t consider discontinued railroad routes.
Anyway … that evening in Katowitze, I stood in a queue for almost an hour, hoping to buy a ticket to Czestochowa and arrive by the following morning—Saturday. I was hungry and extremely tired from having gotten almost no sleep the night before on the train to Krakow. I mention this only as a justification for my upcoming behavior.
After the usual Eastern European interminable wait, which allowed ample time for the ticket agent to yawn, scratch, stare blankly at her computer screen for minutes on end (which I swore had a game of solitaire front and center), clean her perfectly manicured fingernails, and check her lipstick between each customer; it was my turn.
A kindly Polish gentleman on the train from Krakow to Katowitze had written on a napkin, in Polish language, “I would like one ticket to Czestochowa please.”
When I held this napkin up to the ticket agent, she said, in perfect English, “You can’t get there from here.”
I’m not sure why that struck me as so funny—fatigue I suppose—but I got the giggles so seriously that I could hardly breathe.
“You can get anywhere from anywhere,” I finally gasped. “Just give me a round about way—it could be interesting and I have plenty of time.”
To which she repeated, as though it was the only English that she knew, “You can’t get there from here,” punctuating there and here with tightly rolled ‘R’s and a significant increase in decibel level, just in case everyone in the station wasn’t aware of precisely how annoyed she was with me.
I considered her comment so absurd that I continued laughing all the way to the road, where I stuck my thumb into the air and prayed for the best. And that’s when I met Mark, but that’s another story; maybe even a book.
Anyway … I firmly believed, and I continue to believe, that you can, indeed, get anywhere your heart desires from anywhere you may currently be. Even if you feel completely stuck and alone, without your map, Lonely Planet guidebook, or any sense of direction what-so-ever, there is always a way just waiting to be discovered—a magical, perfectly tailor-made way—for you to reach your destination. Perhaps that’s why I used such an unusual format for my book; just to prove my point!
You have probably read the pages preceding this one, unless, like me, you like to skip around in books (in which case you may want to be tested for ADD). But assuming that you have read the preceding pages, you might be saying something like, “I thought this was a book about the spiritual life of some woman. I don’t want to be traveling through a fairy-tale. I want to be experiencing a real life drama!”—since this is more-or-less what every editor and reader of my manuscript originally said, at this point.
So this is the page where I give you a promise—
If you want to experience the real life drama of a woman’s spiritual journey, just read on. Because, unlike the bored and disinterested ticket agent in Krakow, I give you my solemn and enthusiastic word that, no matter how unlikely it may seem to you in this moment—you will get there from here!
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