I spent the late morning out at my mom and dad’s place, interviewing them a second time for the book I’m writing about my sister. For lunch, we ate the last of the ribs I brought home from Johnson’s Boucaniere. Afterwards, I headed to Baton Rouge to visit S., one of my sister Ruthie’s chemo buddies, with whom I’ve become friends since we moved to Louisiana. S.’s cancer had gone into remission, but came back not long before my sister died. She’s still fighting it.
S. is a prayerful Catholic. For the past 10 days, she’s had in her house a Rosa Mystica statue of the Virgin Mary. It’s about 18 inches tall, and she has it on her coffee table. I had never heard of this particular devotion, even during my Catholic years, but S. says this is one of two (I think) such statues in south Louisiana. Both are passed around among Catholics who are very ill or otherwise in distress. S. told me that she and others sometimes see moisture forming in the eyes of the statue during prayer. She showed me a couple of images on her iPhone purporting to document this, as well as other eerie alterations on the statue’s face during and immediately following prayer. We were sitting right next to the statue the whole time. I didn’t notice anything unusual about it.
We talked for a while about how her cancer treatment was going, and things that have been on her mind. After a while, she asked me if I had time to stay and pray her daily rosary with her. Sure, I said. We knelt down to pray, and I could see at the bottom of the statue’s right eyelid moisture forming. It was strange. It was definitely not there when I first saw the statue, and I had not moved more than two feet from it the whole visit. Nobody ever touched it. We prayed the rosary together, and asked God’s help and blessing for the sick, and others in need of mercy. When we had finished, S. said, “Do you see that?”
Yes, I did see that. There were two small beads of liquid appearing on the lower lid of the statue’s right eye. They had been there since we started to pray. I took the photo above with my iPhone camera.
Make of that what you will. I know better than to try to say what that was, or what it meant. I believe this kind of thing can and does happen, miraculously. All I’m willing to say about this particular incident is that these “tears” weren’t there when I first examined the statue — and I examined it from a number of angles, both before and after this incident. Nobody touched the statue while I was there. The liquid appeared to have emerged as we knelt to pray.
In any case, I don’t really care whether this was a small miracle, an optical illusion, or what have you. I used to be really into this sort of thing, but not so much anymore. I mean, I believe it can be authentic, but I don’t think much about this stuff anymore. It’s not the important thing. The important thing that happened today was my visit with S., and the great encouragement I received from being with S., who is so strong and full of faith, despite her dire situation with cancer. It was so great to pray with her. I’m not one who prays easily with people outside of a liturgical setting, but this was wonderful. S. sat through so much suffering with my sister, and, well, it’s good to be with her and to talk about Ruthie. As I left, she gave me three white roses from a vase next to the statue — one for my sister’s family, one for my mom and dad, and one for my family. They looked fresh, but S. said they have been in that vase since the day the statue was brought to her house. They haven’t decayed.
I had intended to go by LSU tonight to visit the Tunnel of Oppression, and write satirically about it. But when I drove away from S.’s place, I didn’t want to disturb the sense of peace and blessing I had from having been with her. So I just came on home, and was grateful for that.