More than 200 people have been welcomed into Connie Lopez home on Ymbacion Street since the image of the Virgin Mary appeared on a stone on her fireplace.
When I first heard the news of a miracle, I admit my curiosity was tempered with skepticism.
Why would the maker of the universe or his blessed mother bother to show him or herself in the unusual ways that have come to light in recent years? Images have appeared in the creosote of a telephone pole, the charred grill marks of a tortilla, the wax drippings down a candle, and now, on a stone?
Last Monday at the senior center, Mary Linda Fuentes’ and her sister Dora’s take on the subject was compelling. When something bad happens or is about to happen, like the recent outbreak of swine flu, the Virgin Mary appears to bring us all back to prayer, they said.
When I visited with Connie, she quickly asked, “Are you a believer?” Yes, I’m a believer. But did I believe that this image is a miracle? I grapple for an answer.
Back in 1998 when my parents Kenneth and Penny Herring were still alive, I stopped by their home for morning coffee after getting my daughters off to school. While pouring our coffee, my mother announced she had seen heaven in a dream.
For those who may not have known my mother, it’s important to note that, while she was a spiritual woman, she was more a skeptic than I. Her story shocked us. Dad and I exchanged wide-eyed glances.
Momma was only six when her mother died, just a year older than my young grandson. Yet, she described her mother, aunt and grandmother sitting on colorful quilts on a green hillside covered with flowers. While they sat under the canopy of ancient trees on the bank of a clear, blue, running stream.
Jesus Christ stood among them, in all His glory, she said. Mother recognized many people at the picnic. They were all dressed in white, yet the bright colors of their surroundings were magnificent, a lovelier and happier place than any she had ever seen.
When she awakened, Momma said she tried hard to return to slumber and her dream but, to her disappointment, that didn’t happen. We talked about her vision of heaven many times before she died in 2007.
Connie had a similar experience when she went into an extended coma from health issues. She recounts visiting with her late parents and their fond farewell when she was told to return.
Did my mother and Connie actually see heaven? Nobody can say for sure, but I draw great comfort envisioning Momma sitting on that heavenly hillside near my dad and her beloved mother.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to turn our thoughts to the woman who gave us life. Whether or not one can see the image of Christ’s mother in stone is irrelevant. What’s truly miraculous is that hundreds of people have gathered to offer thousands of prayers in the name of Christ’s mother these few weeks preceding Mother’s Day.
Though I admit I’m a skeptic by nature, some things are simply accepted by faith alone.