It’s Christmas Eve. A big full moon, very round and white, shines on the pure black of a Polish night. I drag my Christmas loneliness, on an empty stomach, along the cold and deserted streets of Bialystok. What am I doing here? Nothing exactly. It’s just that — I’d like to have supper by the warmth of people, like everyone does.
But all shops and restaurants are closed. Not even the Turks open their kebab kiosks today, so I’ll have to return to my hotel room without dinner — and most of all without company.
Suddenly, the sound of some distant music comes to my ears, and thither I turn my steps. Three musicians are playing their instruments under a small marquee, and alongside them, warm food and hot tea is being handed out by a group of volunteers. Lots of bums gather around, filling up their bellies, then having seconds, and then again ask for one extra portion, so they can take it away to their slum dens.
I come closer and look over the counter to the nice-smelling food. I have some qualms, though, to profit from the destitute’s food, which is not meant for me. But upon turning my back for going away, a smiling lady welcomes me: ‘¡zapraszamy, zapraszamy! Jest barszcz, prosze pan‘. A bit ashamed of myself, I take the cup she hands me, full of hot borsh, and there I finish off the tasteful broth among the beggars. Suddenly I feel I’m one of them; they’re my kindred; for, what’s the difference between us? Sure, I could pay this food and they can’t; but the fact is, here we are, all together in the same place, homeless people sharing an unexpected Christmas Eve that the Church has brought to us: merry music and good traditional Polish homemade food: borszcz, pierogi, bigos, herbata…
Indeed, this charitable little event is organized by the Catholic Church. Not by the social powers, nor by the always-complaining mobs, nor by the so-called ‘solidary’ groups or parties — leave aside by the anti-Christian trendy movement; no. Those, all of them, are now actually celebrating Christmas Eve with their families. Only the Church cares for us and sets up this munificent counter; the much criticized and opposed Church.
I talk to the lady in charge. I’d like to give them a few bucks I have in my wallet, to contribute, to reward at least the warm food, the hot tea, the music and the nice atmosphere; but she wouldn’t dream of taking my money: this is for free–she says–; but if you feel grateful you can thank the Lord. Ah, madam!, that’s exactly what I can’t…
Eventually, I walk back to my hotel. Sauntering along the cold and deserted streets of Bialystok, under this bright full moon, I’m just another vagabond returning to his den; a vagabond who has just spent Christmas Eve among his kindred.