09 April 2005

The Funeral

They rang the church bells at 10am yesterday, followed by sirens. The bells rang again around 12:30, when the service in Rome finished. I didn't actually see any of the official funeral, since I don't have a TV, but I'm told it was very international.

I did go to a gathering in the evening, which turned out to be a mass. There were more people on the trams than I've ever seen before in Poznan, all headed for the same place. When we got there, we weren't able to get close enough to even see the stage, but they had big screens set up so everyone could see the priests who were presiding over the service. It lasted just over 2 hours (why do I only end up at the really long masses??), during which it started to rain twice. Ever been in a crowd of thousands when people suddenly decide to put up umbrellas?

Afterwards, we walked around the city a bit, since it would have been hopeless to try to get on a tram. I was really surprised by how many restaurants were open, I thought everything was going to be closed all day. I guess they decided that people still need to eat, even when their national hero dies.

I didn't really get much of a sense of despair or loss from the people around me, which could mean they've had a few days to get over it, or I'm just not that observant. Some of my students suggested that people are only going to all these church services because they think it's expected of them, and they don't want the neighbors to think less of them. I hope that's not the case for everyone, but I kind of think it might be for a lot of people.

I'm really interested to see the reaction here to whoever gets chosen as the new Pope. No matter who it is, it'll never be John Paul II, so they'll probably have a tough time winning over the Poles. But we'll just have to wait & see.


Sumeeta said...

Thanks for your coverage of the Pope's funeral. It gave a good insight to what was happening in his home country.

Good luck with your teaching. I am a teacher as well so I know the pain of it!

Kelley Bell said...

Interesting post.

The comment:
"people are only going to all these church services because they think it's expected of them"

was particularly interesting.

I am writing a novel about a young girl who longs to please her father, her mother, and her church.

In the book, she often makes choices in conflict with her true feelings becasue she is seeking the acceptance of others.

Something we all struggle with...

Rebecca said...

I spent a week in Krakow about three years ago with a group of students from Sweden (not my home country, but i was an exchange student there) and we attended a mass. Ha! That thing was so packed we only had standing room; not to mention it was over an hour and a half. Crazy.

I know how crazy it is to live in a foreign country. You're brave. I loved Poland, so you're lucky as well. Its starting to be that beautiful time of year, isn't it? All I can say is that I hope I end up in Krakow (and who knows where I'll be in between). Anyway, you can read some of my really old entries on my blog (I started it for the same reason you did).
Hope you're learning loads. Good luck.

FedUp said...

I must sheepishly admit that I only noticed your blog now, because of your sudden popularity, but mostly due to one word: Poland!

I am Polish, living in Canada (albeit since I was young...but I am still Polish at heart) and it is great to read about my home country from your point of view.
Blog on...and don't let all that popularity go to your head ;)

Sagepaper said...

I have written two Haiku, each in Micha form. The first is about the funeral, and the second is about the election of Benedict the XVI. The virtue of Haiku is that they are "quick reads."

Unfortunately, my infant Blog got derailed into discussions of racism. I was accused of being Anti-Semitic, and wasted space arguing the point. I am not generally preoccupied with racial issues.


nmicurn said...

I liked your post and found interesting to see what happening in the rest of the world. I live in the central US and got up at 2:45am to watch the funeral. It was so well done. I got to see John Paul II two times here in the US. My father in law is Polish and was so thrilled to have a Polish Pope. I am glad to see Pope John considered a national hero. We lost a great man.

Constance said...

My mother was Polish, but born in Michigan--Parents emigrated in the 20's. Mom learned English in Kindergarten. She said she was the poster girl for full immersion. It was quick, she said. She continued to live in a Polish neighborhood (Chicago, by now) and was able to retain Polish while learning English. She spoke Polish so well, in fact, that Poles didn't realize she was visiting from the U.S.
She went to Poland a few years before she died, and she had planned to go again before she got sick.
She told an amusing story about how she and her traveling companion were riding public transportation in Krakow (Cracow?)and were interested to see the driver pull over to let 2 dogs on. They settled below one of the benches (or seats) and went to sleep. A few miles down the line, the driver pulled over to let them off. That one sticks in my mind.
Another tidbit she told us concerned staying with a cousin there. Mom said that the bathtub was so high it took a stepstool to get up and in.
She said she had never been so cold in her life as when she was there. It was fall or winter. She really enjoyed being there.
It's a whole different world, she said.