In 1941 Krystyna Wituska was a young member of the Polish resistance fighting for the liberation of her country from Nazi occupation.

Krystyna was arrested in 1942 and eventually executed in the Buchenwald sub-camp Halle-Saale.

During her imprisonment, Krystyna wrote over 80 letters which were eventually published in English as Inside a Gestapo Prison: The Letters of Krystyna Wituska 1942-1944.

On 28 February 1943 Krystyna wrote –Krystyna

When I take my walk in the yard during my free hour, I look up at the sky, and I smile with joy when I see the clouds floating high above the prison walls. I feel sorry for people who are surrounded every day by even more beautiful sights, but can’t find joy in them because their hearts are constricted and cold. (Wituska, Krystyna. Inside a Gestapo Prison: The Letters of Krystyna Wituska 1942-1944. ed. & trans. Irene Tomaszweski. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2006)

Everything about Krystyna’s circumstances in February 1943 was calculated to destroy joy. Yet, because her heart was not “constricted and cold,” even the smallest sign of Life was able to open her to the depths of her being in which she realized the possibility of joy.

Christmas is an opportunity to move from a heart that is “constricted and cold” to a heart that is expansive and warm. A warm expansive heart is a heart that is available for joy.

What are the pointers to joy I can discern in my life that help me open to the possibility of staying close to Life even in the most difficult circumstances?