Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Sunday, September 28, 2008

where do we live again?

As we stepped down from the bus, the guy behind pulled his son along ('chodz chodz!') and lifted him down to the pavement. We crossed the road, and joined the group of people walking towards the large church. A girl finished her phone call ('no dobra, pa pa') and slipped in ahead of us.

Inside, we pushed through the crowd at the back ('przepraszam') and walked down the central aisle. Marek crossed himself and we moved along a row to two empty places. The place was full, really full. A group of children at the front were singing, accompanied by a jolly nun with a guitar, and the place was buzzing - children crying, their parents whispering, buggies creaking as they were pushed closer to the front and adults murmuring prayers, getting their private business dealt with before the main show.

Soon, the singing stopped, the crowd settled down and the priest took the microphone, welcoming everyone in his booming voice, and encouraging everyone to join in with the familiar words.

If I'd been in any doubt about the number of Poles in Brussels before, I was certain now. The place is full of them. I looked around at the hundreds of people - old men with white hair and creased skin; young women with brash stripey highlights and strong makeup, tall fathers with children in their arms, on their shoulders, by their side; grandmothers with sensible shoes and vibrantly coloured hair... and it felt more like Warsaw than Warsaw did the last time I was there.

We discovered the Polish church by accident, last month when Marek's father and sister were in town. As we drove around looking for a parking space, the doors of the church had burst open, and crowds of people had streamed out. 'Must be Polish' I pronounced, as the others looked on sceptically. Don't all churches look like that on a Sunday? We went in, and found the sign with details about the services.

Six services on a Sunday. One in French, the rest in Polish. Enough said.

As someone who only ever went to church because of the music, it was refreshing to hear a nun singing her heart out, leading the congregation with her strumming. The priest spoke mainly about love and good things, which is always pleasant for a protestant who has been taught to think of Catholics as haunted by guilt and obsessed by hell. The place had a warm friendly vibe, and nobody batted an eyelid when I failed to cross myself, pray with the rest of them or sing along to the hymns.

We have a venue for the wedding, and a traditional Polish band. The major thing we still need to sort is the church. It's a shame this one is so far from Warsaw.

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Blogger pinolona said...

It's true that when one is not in Poland the most interesting or quirky things to write about tend to involve pockets of Polish life abroad...

9:37 am  

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