Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Damian
Â This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” –
reflections from participants of the Zen Peacemakers
Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats.
WORLDS OPENING, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
Damian Dudkievich, Poland/ Great Britain
(in photo, third from right)
[…]Â I donâ€™t remember exactly how often I participated, I think it might be overÂ ten times. My first retreat happened in 1999, I was the youngest participantÂ at that year, aged 18. I had not been to Auschwitz-Birkenau before.
As a Polish person, I learned about it at school, I saw programs on TV, readÂ in history books, but never went there.Â A few months before the Retreat I had watched a short film done byÂ a Polish director, Andrzej Titkov, about that event, and something deepÂ down in my soul was calling me to go there.Â It became one of the most significant experiences I had in my life. TheÂ entire experience of this Bearing Witness Retreat was a big plunge for me intoÂ the history and energy of that place â€¦ into the known, and into the unknown. […] Asking myself what this retreat brought into my life, I say: it connectedÂ me with worlds inside and outside.
On the outside, I met lots of people from all over the planet, I experiencedÂ the oneness of differences â€¦ People from many countries, traditions,Â languages, cultures, sexual orientations, skin colors etc. in one place â€“ thatÂ was a mind-opener for me. I started to learn English, and since 2008 I liveÂ in London. On the inside, the Retreat was a journey into my own sorrow,Â my own suffering, and I was able to connect with it. I met my own inner victim and also an oppressor, and it was possible to bring the lessons I learnedÂ into my daily life.
This excerpt from Damain’s reflection appears in fullÂ in the book
“AschePerlen – Pearls of Ash & Awe. 20 Years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman & Zen Peacemakers” (2015)Â Edited by Kathleen Battke, Ginni Stern, and Andrzej Krajewski,Â in German and English. Printed copies or e-book available at: https://janando.de/steinrich/en
Pearls of Ash and Awe: Kathleen Battke on Collecting Testimonials from Two Decades of Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats
December 06, 2017