Admittedly this is not about the trip to Thailand or China….It is not even especially about Multiple Sclerosis, but every now and then I am reminded by the gloriousness and beauty of simple faith. And so for my share this week I want to retell a story that happened to me many years ago.
A Miracle By Any Other Name
As a young girl, I adored St. Bernadette. I watched the movie The Song of Bernadette so many times I could recite dialog with Jennifer Jones. Naturally, I had always wanted to visit Lourdes, and on one trip to France I made it to the town, and I saw the house where Bernadette had lived. Plaques covered the walls dedicated to her miracles. Surprisingly only 66 have been verified.
The previous seven years of my life I had gone from doctor to doctor. My symptoms were mysterious, causing speculation that I suffered from some unknown autoimmune disease. Anything from Scleroderma to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After one appointment I went home in tears after being told I might not live much longer than 5 years.
But now I was at Lourdes. I approached the grotto and waited to go to the waters for a cure. With candle in hand, I stood in line. I neared the clearing where Bernadette saw Mother Mary and was overcome with emotion. When my hand touched the water that trickled down, tears fell silently as I prepared to go in and bathe. I felt a bit nervous and somewhat foolish, but I didn’t feel especially hopeful.
Then…one by one they came. Old people in wheelchairs, small children on stretchers with IV’s and nurses by their sides. Sickness, more than I could imagine, more than I could understand. No matter how many there were, I knew more would come. The realization of how many sick and dying people there were on Earth on just this one-day stopped me. I couldn’t walk another step.
A thought raced through my mind: What if, there were a limited number of miracles to go around? What if there are say, 1,000,000 miracles that will happen at Lourdes? Not one more, or one less. What if I took one that could go to a dying child? What if someone didn’t live because I got her miracle? All logic aside, those were my thoughts. So I shook my head and wept. Out loud for over an hour, inconsolably, I wept. I slowly walked away from the Grotto clutching a picture of Bernadette and a bottle of water from the fountain. I never did bathe in the waters; I knew they weren’t meant for me.
Twenty-four hours later I woke up in a hotel in Barcelona, with no pain. The same thing happened the next day and the day after. They called it remission. You can call it a healing if you like, or you can call it a coincidence. Whatever word you use, will not diminish the unexplained power that took away a life of pain and suffering and gave me one of freedom and contentment. Call it what you want. The truth is, that to me, a miracle by any other name is still the same thing.
15 years forward – I am still free of the same Fibromyalgia pain that I experienced before that trip. Of course, in fairness, I guess I did trade the Fibro for the MS, but I am very grateful for the day I went to Lourdes.
A couple of years ago I returned to France on another pilgrimage to visit Bernardette Soubirous. This time I took a long walk from the train station in Nevers to her resting place, a little chapel at the top of a winding road. Her body is encased in glass and very visible to the naked eye.