As we were leaving on Wednesday I was grateful for the quick yet jolting reminder that I was entering into a pilgrimage. World Youth Day isn't so much a vacation as it is a pilgrimage, a trip that is done with specific purpose, in this case detaching from all those things that keep one distant from God and journeying ever closer to him and his will for one's life.
I've never been away from my two little girls, Sydney (4) and Juliette (2) for so long. It was difficult to say goodbye, especially since we have heard of recent acts of terror in Europe. As I climbed into the car with tears in my eyes God granted me a moment of grace as I was reminded that, while I'm sure his will for my life is to be a responsible father, there are times when detachment is necessary and good (even if from that responsibility for a little while so as to grow in that very same sense).
Being open to God's activity and voice is my first step on this pilgrimage. I thank him for that somewhat painful and rude reminder of what this journey to Poland is all about.
Right now we are all sitting at our hotel in Zakopane which is a ski/resort town located in the mountains very close to the border of Poland and Slovakia. It is beautiful. As I sit and look at the mountains I can't help but wonder, did St. John Paul II ski those runs? Did he come here to encounter God in all his beauty of creation? I bet he did.
Today we will be going to the Polish national shrine to our Lady of Fatima and then enjoying a gondola ride up and down the popular ski hill.