Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Lourdes

Lourdes

Being a Roman Catholic by birth, my connection with St Bernadette and Lourdes has been a long one.  I was told and then read the story of the miraculous healings that took place in Lourdes after the Virgin Mary appears to Bernadette.   When I was 11 years old, I was told by my parents that my beloved grandfather was dying.   I begged and pleaded with them to take him to Lourdes.  I knew in my very heart and soul that if we could get him to Lourdes he would not die.  I did not understand why it could not be done, nor did I understand the implications of a dying man and the distance to Lourdes.  It was only when I was a young adult that I realized the impossibility of my request, but for years I held a terrible resentment because I thought no one loved my grandfather enough to take him to be healed.
When my niece, at the age of 3, was diagnosed with a very advanced stage of Crohns Disease, I made it my business to raise the funds to send my mom, her mother and her to Lourdes.  She was very ill when they left South Africa and after one day in Lourdes, she sat up and said she was hungry.  On her return, the gastroenterologist could find no sign of the disease.  That was almost 25 years ago.
My next sojourn to Lourdes was to take my daughter, diagnosed with advanced sarcoidosis and very little lung function.   She went into remission within weeks and has stayed that way.  She now has a 16 year old daughter and a 6 year old son.  Another miracle.  

Lourdes is the most holy place I have been and I have traveled a lot.  The very air of the town and around the grotto is filled with an energy that made me feel that I had champagne bubbles in my heart.  I could not even stand at the grotto – it was as though the very earth pulled me to my knees and I could feel the unbidden tears rolling down my cheeks.  To see that same rose growing out of the rock after more than a hundred years was in itself a revelation.  Now I want to go.  
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