On the last day of the year a gentle knock attracted my attention . A very unassuming ,smiling woman was standing at the entrance of the monastery . She came from Kismuncsel that is roughly 30 km from Déva from an abandoned mining settlement, this mother of four, in trouble, of Hungarian background but no longer speaking a word in Hungarian.
I visited them early in December , they live in the forest near the mining area that was abandoned years ago. When I was there beautiful white snow covered the ripped open wounds of the earth . Huge trees, torrential mountain stream, and like the dead of an earlier great battle scattered about almost at every step of the way were the mining cars ,now no more than scrapiron , electric motors, chains, cables . Amidst the different refuse there was a little house left behind , that was approximately one kilometre away from the very first house that was occupied . This is where this poor woman found a home with her four small children (the eldest was 11 year old).
I let her in :
-"I have nothing , she said,I am ashamed in front of the children , that they never received a Christmas present and even now I have nothing to give them. Please, help me !"
My mother started collecting this and that to fill the woman’s sack , whilst I am enquiring . I am taken aback to hear that she made the thirty kilometre journey from the top of the snow-covered mountain on foot to the monastery . After all she has no alternative , since up there on the top of the mountain , since the mine closed, they don’t clear a path . Even now the beautiful countryside is asleep under a layer of snow that is 1-1 1/2 meters deep.
The mother left at 4 a.m. entrusting her sleeping children to God and the guard dogs . I offered her a place , but she waited standing till her sack was filled , then excused herself with apologies why she was in such a rush : “Because surely we understand that time is needed for the festive preparation, and as she got this and that from us she would like to bring joy to her children .”
In the early afternoon sunlight her silhouette was splendidly shining as it melted into the snow-covered mountain side .
I could keep on writing how communism with lies and false promises pushed people into impossible situations , and left them to fend for themselves in godforsaken places . This family back in those days sold everything they had and moved into the well-paying mining areas , made a home for themselves, based upon the encouragement of system built on shifting sands . The big sin of socialism is that for all the failures, fiascos everybody in fact nobody is taking the responsibility . Unfortunately after the collapse of the regime, no-one can sell their homes in a mining area deserted by everybody , and because of this they are unable to create a home again, a place for themselves , their children.
I could also write about the poorly working social network . Or about child protection that does not notice what a great danger , the children forced , trapped in the peripheries pose, growing up under these cruel situations , who have not even got a minimal chance , that growing into our more and more complex world , of" getting to first base “i.e. a foothold .
One could write about many things. For me this mother is eternal and painfully beautiful . This woman represents for me the concentrated , solid hope , who on the last day of the year walks 60 kms , that in the firs minutes of the Lord’s 2002nd year in little dilapidated house, abandoned by the world festive gaiety soothes her children’s spirit , that for the little ones keeping each other warm by sharing body heat , may the feast, joy descend into the world.
I bow my head in the presence of motherly love . She is unaware , that her gentle quiet act , real humanity perhaps even in the eyes of God looking down on earth , is our sinful world’s anonymous , quiet excuse , conciliation . The beggar woman’s gift : Mankind’s vocation , with self-sacrifice creating a feast for our loved ones . Pure love is the token of the renewal of
life ! From it , through it we can draw strength to be able to get going towards our own mountain peaks , that we can also bring joy for our loved ones into this world .
Böjte Csaba ofm
translated by dr k.e.