When I graduated from college, my mom took me on a month long trip to Europe. One of the cities we visited was Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful place and it fell into our schedule at a time when we desperately needed a day of relaxation.
About half of the travelers on our tour were Catholic. Upon arrival in Dubrovnik, they immediately made arrangements for a side trip to Medugorje, a nearby town where the Blessed Virgin Mary had been seen and heard giving messages from God.
Exhausted from the endless activities of the prior week, I could not understand how these many men and women had the strength for something more on our scheduled day off. Some of them had trouble walking and a few were practically falling over from fatigue and yet, they went.
My mom and I stayed behind and had absolutely no regrets at the time, but all these years later I wonder if I would turn down a second opportunity to do what they did. I would be lying if I told you I believed in what they felt, but I think I might have appreciated following someone of faith up a hill to the core of his religion. Oh, to be a spectator for that.
For me the miracle might have been just to see how people change in the face of what they believe. Whether the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them or not, they certainly must have been moved by the experience of their journey. I would like to have seen their faces.
I’m reminded of this tonight because there is a miracle happening in my house right now. My seven-year-old son is awake and alone in his darkened room. I tucked him in, I said goodnight, I left him and I closed the door behind me. And he is fine, soon on his way to dreamland.
For the past several years my husband and I have taken turns sleeping at his side to soothe his midnight terrors and sometimes shepherd him to the bathroom, but mostly just to keep him from feeling lonely. He has been incapable of making it through a night without us there.
When my son was younger, his reaction to waking alone was to throw a 2:00 a.m. tantrum easily heard throughout the neighborhood. It was one of the many things about him that exhausted and depressed us.
He would wake, then scream and throw things to get our attention. We always understood that he was angry at us for leaving him there alone, but we never knew if there was something more. He didn’t speak and so communication was a guessing game for all of us.
His tantrums sometimes lasted until dawn and frequently reduced one or all three of us to tears. It was a difficult time for our son, for us and for our marriage. Sleep deprived, full of sorrow and possessed by guilt, we just barely made it through.
A few months ago we decided it was time to make some changes. It was complicated and not immediately successful, but we were determined and our son was ready. He is growing up and we finally get to sleep.
I am hard pressed to articulate the importance of this development. I don’t know how it measures up to a sighting of the Blessed Virgin, but in my house, it seems miraculous. It is a life changing triumph for my soul and a very welcome relief. My whole world has changed and I can feel it on my face.
I wonder if my friends from the Europe trip would like to see that.