I dashed off my last post because following World Youth Day with a nine hour time difference between Vancouver and Kraków is a bit of a trip. It is true that I do not feel up to the task of giving my hot takes on World Youth Day, even as some excellent ones have appeared on the interwebz. It also remains true that I am much more interested in the day before and after World Youth Day.
But maybe I did not let on enough about how exactly I plan to talk around the event here.
While I do plan to catch up on what’s been happening in Poland – especially with Pope Francis’s gestures and texts – the truth is that I know some persons who are at World Youth Day and have been preparing for it for quite some time. If you are not at World Youth Day, perhaps you know some of those people too.
It has been fascinating to watch my friends prepare for over a year for this event. I know some people, for example, who have been intimately involved in the musical preparations. In fact, my friend Fr Lukasz Misko OP’s name has somehow made its way onto the English version of the World Youth Day song; Lukasz and I, of course, know each other from the University of Washington’s Catholic Newman Center, and maybe some day I will talk about how he was key to my journey to Eastern Catholicism. For now, however, I will simply share his Soundcloud to give you a flavour of the kind of music he’s into. Because of this connection, I am eagerly anticipating hearing from my friends who are there about some strange Byzantine convergences with an event that is supposed to be dominated by Latin Catholicism. Maybe I will write about them, if the convergences are exciting enough.
In fact, it is also true that I, like perhaps many others who are not attending the events, have indeed been hearing from my friends through social media, albeit sporadically. I learned from a Mercy Center video on Salt and Light TV that the hashtag is #Krakow2016 (as opposed to what I thought it was, #WYD2016), and I’ve switched over to that. But various other messaging platforms have also given me some of the flavour of what’s going on on the ground – jet lag, plane delays, choir rehearsals, sound checks, hostel adventures, and even leads on where to find a wheelchair in Kraków if you are not staying in a parish. A kind friend from an intellectual journal that I regard very highly (but cannot fully read because it is all in Polish) has also been messaging me, and I think he has met some of my visiting friends as well. The problem with these instant messaging platforms, though, is that they are completely useless for helping people like me give a hot take. After all, it’s only when my friends are bored and frustrated that they’re messaging me. That they are not messaging me right now indicates, first, that they’re really getting into the worship (meeting Jesus and all that) and, second, their phones are either dead or have no data in Poland. I guess the ‘new social communications‘ aren’t so instant after all.
But because I know some persons at World Youth Day, I suppose I want to write about it because of the personal connection, in addition to all the interesting things to say about the day after and the day before. Maybe there are different scales through which to approach World Youth Day. Certainly, the texts and videos from the events will provide a broad scale of understanding, and my reflections on these may get rather political. But perhaps my person-to-person conversations about what World Youth Day was like will probably be more devotional. Maybe I think like this because I am a geographer.
We shall see, of course. The truth is that I’ll probably stay in the dark until my friends in Poland get their data back. When they do, I hope they see this post.
POSTSCRIPT: To demonstrate how behind I really am, I came across the text of Pope Francis’s address during the Prayer Vigil last night and discovered that he said something similar to what I said above – while discussing the ‘piecemeal third world war’ especially in Syria (which is something I’d like to discuss further):
Some situations seem distant until in some way we touch them. We don’t appreciate certain things because we only see them on the screen of a cell phone or a computer. But when we come into contact with life, with people’s lives, not just images on a screen, something powerful happens.
I suppose this is what is called a Holy Spirit moment.