SIY Leadership Institute 28-day challenge: Day 3 (Meeting Jan Karski)

Two-minutes of meditation on the metro this morning. I set the timer on my phone, focused on my breathing, and imagined the train noise as a white sound cloud enveloping me like a fog. The whole thing was a little trippy. I’m curious enough to keep going with the daily challenge.

At the leadership training last week, we participated in mindful walking. Imagine the scene on Georgetown’s campus – 100+ people exiting a building, then walking slowly in all directions. It looked like the zombie apocalypse. Prospective students and their parents visiting the campus looked confused. Their enthusiastic Hoya tour guides pretended they didn’t see us. The courtyard cleared out quickly.

My walking meditation took me to a corner of the campus with a small pond, the sound of rushing water, and the strong scent of petunias. Seated on a bench was a life-size statue of Jan Karski, a name I didn’t recognize. Below is the accompanying plaque:

The line, “The man who told of the annihilation of the Jewish people while there was still time to stop it,” landed on my heart hard and gave me pause. I thought of climate change.

I learned later that when Karski met with FDR to tell him about the mass murder of Jews in Poland, the President never asked about the atrocities or the people, only about the condition of horses in the country.

Discovering Karski was unexpected. Or perhaps such encounters are actually the norm for a contemplative walker. I need to pay attention. Jan Karski is a reminder that if we just look around, we are surrounded by examples of greatness.

About Lee Ann De Reus

Executive Director, DV LEAP; Co-founder, Panzi Foundation USA
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