I was very excited about your book. I would like to thank you for your work and to tell you something about my journey through life.
My name is Zdenek and I am 83 years old. I came to the USA (from what is now the Czech Republic) with my whole family at Christmas 1981. You said your first word in Italy was CIAO, my English contained only - I LOVE YOU, THANK YOU. Speaking or writing English is very difficult for me. But I don’t have a problem reading English and instead of watching TV, I like to read.
So, when I read somewhere that a nun from Mother Teresa’s order wrote a book An Unquenchable Thirst – ah cha – I have to read it. In our library are only two copies, and I had to wait in line.
I knew Mother Teresa from the newspapers. But I didn’t know that there is some MC order around her.
As a kid I remember in our village only one nun. All in black, just around her neck was a broad white collar. Being a nun, among our people, was similar to being a priest. It was the most revered person in the village.
We have a saying: “What we are and who we are, we were at least from three-quarters forced to be like.” How to speak, how to dress, to eat, to believe in God, to keep rules of surrounding society, and, of course – to condemn and to hate people who were forced to live differently. Then in the army we heard something like this: “A good soldier does not think, he just listens and follows orders of his officer.” From the first chapter of Unquenchable Thirst, I thought, nuns have their lives much tougher than the soldiers.
But the time comes, at least for some people, the remaining quarter of the consciousness wakes up and begins to ask: WHY? Then one begins to see the self and the surroundings differently than seen before. I have had such WHY? moments in my life and some of them also touched my beliefs in God. I was very excited by your openness, how you dared to look into intimate sections on your way to a full life. Every part of your book provoked in me a memory of my religious development.
I was born in a small village where all people were Catholics and the priest taught (2 hours/week) school children about religion. In the fourth year class, in 1938-39, he told us about the Great Flood. There was a picture in a book (The Biblical History) where on some small island whipped by wind and rain, among predatory beasts, snakes and birds also were mothers lifting their children and begged for rescue of them in the departing Ark.
"These are drowned too?" I asked a priest and pointed to young children.
“God saved only the righteous and without original sin,“ he said.
“Could God do such a flood now, too? " I continued.
"Certainly," the priest looked at me. How can I ask something like this? "God's will is boundless."
"I would not drown,” I told him. “I was baptized the third day after birth." The class muttered approvingly. From a fear of sudden death, nearly every child was baptized on the third day.
"Father," I continued, "In a nature book I have read, that in water and mainly in the sea life is more abundant than on earth. And there are also sharks, killer whales, sea snakes, octopus . . . If God instead of the Flood made a big drought, He would kill more, it would be better.”
The class exploded, and I got C, the worst mark in religion.
I still haven’t found out, what Noah would have had to do in that case?
A short time later the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia (03.15.39.) and we read on the belt of every German soldier: GOTT MIT UNS. (Something very similar to what Americans carry in their pockets: IN GOD WE TRUST.) And again not so long (09.01.39) the Germans invaded Poland. It started WW2 and at the school we began every day by praying: “Fater unser der Du bis in Himmel . . .“ for victory of the German army. Of course we quietly added: “God, please, kill Germans.“
Another example, Sister Leonard maintained discipline by a stick. Today I look at it differently, but till I was 12 years old I was beaten almost every day. Every kid in the village was. Parents worked in the field from morning to night, and there was no time for lengthy verbal education. As the oldest, I was often beaten also for my younger siblings. We said, “We suffer like Christ, for the sins of others. “ But my grandfather said to me: “Think about it. If Christ as the Son of God felt pain, it was because his omnipotent God the Father wanted him to know human pain. From a young age you know that without God's will not a hair of your head will fall. And you also know that God held Abraham's hand, not to kill his son Isaac. And now, He, the Almighty, let His only Son stand for and be crucified for the sins of others? “ Grandfather said, “I have five sons (+ 4 daughters) but not one I would kill for the sins of others. You are not punished for the sins of others, you are punished because you did not prevent others from doing something wrong. It is a big difference.”
I read the book, chapter by chapter (I read some twice). Then I said to a friend, “Please, read An Unquenchable Thirst.“
“That was written by woman?” he said with derision. (Books written by women he divides into two categories: a/ bad , b/ worse.) After reading your book he told me: ”I created a category c / EXCELLENT.“
- Zdenek Ondracka