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THE MAGIC OF MEDJUGORJE

Part 1 of 2

THE PLACE BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS

 

 

By Rosalie B. Kahn

 

 

I never expected to be living in the vicinity of Medjugorje, the famous area where, on June 24, 1981, six young children were given the gift of witnessing an apparition of the Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary, one quiet evening in the little village in the former Yugoslavia. Since then, Medjugorje has become one of the most visited Marian shrines in the world. When I read a book on the area many years ago, it seemed completely unlikely that I would ever be able to visit the charming city, located only three hours away from my current home in Sarajevo. Indeed, I never expected to see a place that I couldn’t even pronounce! Well, the ways of God are mysterious, are they not?

 

In the spring of 2001, I had to make a decision. I had been working in Santiago, Chile, for the last five years, in the American Embassy as a Foreign Service Secretary, and as I approached the time when I would be leaving that wonderful country for, what I supposed would be my last assignment before retiring, I wasn’t sure if I should stay in Santiago, where I was comfortable and happy in my routine, or venture into yet another area of the world for an adventure completely different than Chile. I loved Chile so much that I told my Chilean husband that I thought that we should retire there. Consequently, it was an enormous decision. Since we had a home on the coast, in a small town called Algarrobo, it would have been very easy to make the transition from Santiago to our beautiful house. On the other hand, I thought that, since I wanted one more assignment before retiring, it should be something completely different from Chile. I had already had assignments in Turkey, Colombia, Austria, South Africa, Pakistan, Nicaragua and Germany. I decided to put it in God’s Hands as I had learned over and over again while studying the Cayce material with the ARE, knowing that every decision, big or small, always came down to the same tactic. Put it in God’s Hands, let it go and let the universe take care of it. All of my assignments had been interesting and I knew that I was always sent exactly where I was supposed to be. Indeed, upon reflection, I could see some of the lessons learned at each post. Since I had been in the Foreign Service for almost 25 years, I was only allowed to work in the "Front Offices" where the Ambassadors were. I had put in my "wish list" as I always did, requesting posts that I thought would be interesting, and I even bid on my own assignment. I put in for some European assignments such as Paris and Rome, and added some Latin assignments such as Montevideo, San Jose and Madrid, so that I would continue to use my knowledge of Spanish. It was up to the State Department to choose my next assignment. As the time came closer to my intended departure in early July, none of the countries I had requested were coming through. With the election of a new President delayed several months, the process of putting Ambassadors in place by June was rather slow and lengthy. I was beginning to wonder where I would be working next, when I received a call from a friend in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina, asking me if I would be interested in working at the US Embassy there. Wow! Sarajevo had never been an option! War and devastation came immediately to mind! Why would I be offered such a place, I wondered? I immediately said yes, knowing full well that a Plan was taking form! After several back and forth discussions with the Embassy, and a phone interview, I did not get the job. Disappointed, but understanding that it was not meant to be, I once again waited for news of another assignment. Several months passed and still I heard nothing. I was due to leave Santiago in a few short weeks and began thinking that maybe I should extend my time in Chile, but every time I considered that, I thought about going directly from Santiago to our retirement home, only 1-1/2 hours away, and I didn’t feel good about that! No, I would hold on a bit longer before making a decision. On June 20th, I received yet another telephone call from Sarajevo about a completely different job, working for the Office of the High Representative for the American Ambassador there. That office (OHR) has had the responsibility of implementing the Dayton Peace Accords since the end of the devastating war. It sounded interesting, and I couldn’t overlook the fact that, since Sarajevo had been offered again, it must be something we should seriously consider. After a short conversation on the phone with the Ambassador going to Sarajevo, I decided to take the job, still never realizing that I would be only a few hours away from Medjugorje, the village between the mountains!

 

On our way to Dubrovnik by bus from Sarajevo in November, I saw the fateful sign. Medjugorje – I nearly fainted. I immediately went on the website looking for books and found two that I thought would be interesting. After reading Medjugorje, The Message, by Wayne Weible, I couldn’t wait to see Medjugorje for myself.

 

We had only 24 hours to experience Medjugorje because I wanted to squeeze in a trip before Guillermo, my husband, would be departing for Chile for seven weeks. Apparition Hill was the citing of the first vision that the children had of the Virgin Mary in 1981 and I had heard most about that Hill. At the top of the Hill is a statue of Mary, where one can pray and walk. The hill is very steep, consisting of rocks with no specific path, and not very easy to climb, but well worth it when you finally arrive there. The peace and tranquility of Apparition Hill, which overlooks the lovely village of Medjugorje, is unmistakably special. According to the book, The Visions of the Children, by Janice T. Connell, the visions are still going on, twenty years after the first vision in 1981. The message from Mary, according to what I’ve read, is peace, faith, conversion, prayer and fasting. The messages given to the children consist of ten secrets which will be revealed in time, but the messages of Medjugorje, says Mary, are the paths to eternal peace and fullness; that all things are possible through prayer, even the avoidance of war. In The Visions of the Children, there are interviews with all of the visionaries. The last question that the author, Janice T. Connell, asks Vicka in her interview is: "What do you recommend that we do to make the future better?" The answer was: "There is a prayer that basically goes: Bloom where you are planted. If everybody is blooming where God plants them – the world will be a beautiful, holy place to live… Those who accept God’s will (will) live in great peace and joy and love because they know God’s love. That is what the Blessed Mother wants for all her children."

 

When I read the "Bloom where you are planted" part, chills ran up and down my spine. For those of you who knew my beloved sister, Freyda Pinkava, you will recognize that phrase as one of her favorites.

 

The magic of Medjugorje, in my opinion, is not necessarily whether or not the six children had visions of the Blessed Mother, but that millions of people believe that they did, and have made pilgrimages there, renewing their love of God, hoping to find that peace and love again that is so lost amongst us at this time. The devotion of the people who go there is an emotional and very touching sight. I watched a lady from Japan touch the hand of a statue of the Virgin Mary in a chapel near the St. James Church, which looms large and beautiful in the square at Medjugorje. Her touch was so loving, so devoted, that I felt myself drawn into her love, which was, indeed, magical. When you are standing on Apparition Hill praying, you have the feeling that you are being heard, that you can empty your heart and soul and that all will be well. Everyone you meet seems to be connected to you at that moment and you want to hug strangers and pray for their worlds. There are no separations and the love energy is strong. If that’s not magic, what is?

 

     

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