Wednesday began our first full day of World Youth Day activities. But while our group went off to catechesis in the morning, my sister Joelle and I went off into the city center of Kraków to prepare for our first performance. We wouldn’t see our group until evening, as they had a long day that included meeting Cardinal Dolan, an experience we would have to miss out on because we were dancing at the same time. We arrived at Plac Nowaka-Jezioranskiego early, took time to rest, and explored the Galeria Mall. We stumbled upon the Kraków Głowny Train Station, where a World Youth Day store was located and bought some souvenirs including the official WYD t-shirt. We made it just in time to for rehearsal, which went well. After our first rehearsal, we decided to take the time to explore the Old City of Kraków.
We walked through Market Square where crowds of pilgrims filled every corner. We took in the sights and sounds of Kraków as well as felt the high energy and fever of World Youth Day. We visited Plac Marii Magdaleni, where I would be dancing the next day, and visited the Dominican cathedral Holy Trinity. We also managed to buy more souvenirs at the St. Mary’s Basilica gift shop before the shop had to close up due to unexpectedly large crowds.
We ran to the Square where we had our performance. We were caught off guard when a group of girls started dancing along with us. At first, I was ticked, thinking they were making fun of us. But as I saw more and more dance and stay for our entire 24 minute performance, I accepted them and invited them to join us to dance along. It was unexpected, but it was fun, and I’m so happy how it turned out.
After our performance, we waited for nearly an hour for a tram to Tauron Arena then got squished in the only one headed in that direction. While on this tram, we met a very old Polish couple. The wife was blind and her husband guided her everywhere she went. She didn’t want to lose balance but her husband was stuck standing on the tram steps. So I took her by the hand and held onto her. There were moments, where I felt like I was holding onto her, as much as she was holding onto me. The couple, who got off a few stops later, represented for me the beauty of true love. How despite ailments and obstacles, these two loved ones would still go on adventures together.
We arrived at Tauron Arena, where we were supposed to meet our group, but were instead greeted by 2000 people trying to enter the arena for a Matt Maher concert.
We had no idea if we would get in, and instead we were content with waiting outside for our group. We had seen many Matt Maher concerts and XLTs before, so we had much rather let those that hadn’t have that experience. About an hour or so into crowd watching, we decided to go around the back to get food. A miracle happened! The back was nearly empty with only a hundred or so pilgrims trying to get in. It took us 10 seconds to decide that we’d go for it, and it took another 10 minutes or so to get through security.
We got in and found our group eventually. I had thought we weren’t meant to experience XLT, and since the beginning I was always okay with that. But as soon as we got in, I knew we were meant to be there. As we tried to find our group, I remember saying to my sister, “I like going on adventures. And I’m glad to be going on adventures with you.”
There couldn’t have been anyone else I could go on an adventure with, where things didn’t always go as expected or when things turned for the better in a split second. Like that couple on the tram, adventures together were always made better by love. And I love my little sister so much. I prayed for her as we danced and I hoped that she would receive the blessings and healing she needed.
As we waited for our bus after Adoration, we found ourselves playing a silly little game, where everyone had to sing one song they could only listen to over and over if they were ever stuck on an island. When they came up to Joelle, she said “I only dance on demand!” And so the next thing you know, she was putting down all her bags so she could dance. At first she wasn’t sure what to dance, then she suggested on a dance we nicknamed “The Eye,” her signature piece for The Moving Prayer. I couldn’t have been a prouder sister and was so happy that she got to share her gifts with our new companions, especially since they wouldn’t be able to see her perform during this pilgrimage.
The day was quite an adventure, and there was no one I would have rather spent that together than with my sister.