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Medjugorje – Part II

Part 2 of 2

THE GIFT

By Rosalie B. Kahn

My fascination with Mary, the Blessed Mother, began long before my first trip to Medjugorje in February of 2002.

In 1986, I adopted a baby in Pakistan. I met him when he was 4 days old. I wrote a story about him for Venture Inward, which was published in Jan/Feb 1988 called "My 2-1/2 Kilo Angel." Since I had been writing poetry almost all of my life, at least as far back as I can remember, I wrote a poem for Alex dated January 20, 1988:

A child was born
And like The One before him
With eyes bright and everything right
He was in the world
To be of service.
She was blessed among women
And how often I thought of her pain
She knew, yet her love was diminished not
Her eyes showed her grief
But when she looked upon Him
The world was anew with Light and Love.
When I see my little one playing
Or in his crib just sleeping
My heart swells with love and devotion
And I try to keep the fear at length
Every mother´s worry has become mine
But my faith in Him
Gives me the strength I need
And that little face that looks up to me
With devotion and love
Helps me to know that He lives
He Abides, He Loves in Thee
Alexander, I love you
And I thank you for coming into my world.

There is nothing really strange about this poem at first sight, but a closer look at the writer will give you a clearer picture. I was born to Jewish parents. There would be no reason why I would be writing about the Blessed Virgin Mary at all, except for the fact that I learned about the Christ Consciousness through the Edgar Cayce readings so many years ago, when I began studying the material in New York City in 1974 at an Edgar Cayce Bible Study class. As a mother of a young son in 1988, I felt a connection with Mary. A premonition? I don´t know. I was a single mother with one child – a son. But why did I think of Mary? And why did I feel close to her then?

In June of 1989, only 17 months after the above poem was written, I wrote this one:

I die a thousand deaths

When I think of my loss

When I see a child

Playing, sleeping, eating

How could anyone take your place?

My son, my only son.

I think of Mary

And I am stronger

I will survive

As did She

But our loss

Oh, our loss.

 

Alex passed away on June 23, 1989, in his sleep.

 

After my first trip to Medjugorje in February, I knew that I wanted to return as soon as possible. One day was not enough time to be there, and although I had really enjoyed the trip, which turned out to be only 3 hours away from my new home in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina, where I was presently working for the Department of State, I knew that I wanted to see more, to explore that lovely, quaint town and to spend time with the statue of Mary on Apparition Hill, where it is said, six young children began receiving messages from the mother of Christ on June 24, 1981.

 

I had been there on February 23rd for 24 hours. My birthday was coming up, and strangely enough, my husband had to go to Chile at exactly that time to do some work for an Air Force Fair taking place at the end of March. I began to think about what I would really like to do for my birthday on March 30th. Since Bosnia is pretty close to Turkey, where I had spent my first two years in the Foreign Service, I wrote to a dear American friend I had known since then, who was still living there. Indeed, I had started the first Edgar Cayce Study Group back then in Ankara and had not seen Bonnie since 1981, when we vacationed together in Vienna, until she came to visit us in Sarajevo in November of 2001 for a couple of days. As soon as I told her that I would be alone on my birthday, she said that she would be delighted to visit again. Then it popped into my head – a trip to Medjugorje for my birthday! I had no idea whether Bonnie would like the idea. She was a practicing Muslim but believed in the Christ Consciousness! She was delighted, excited and thrilled when I proposed the trip. To add to our excitement was the fact that my birthday was on Holy Saturday, and if we stayed overnight in Medjugorje, it would take us into Easter Sunday!

 

On my first trip to Medjugorje, my Chilean husband and I were walking in the street, browsing at the many shops, speaking Spanish as we often do, when a woman alone stopped us and asked us in Spanish where we were from. Sylvia, it turned out, was from Santiago, Chile, exactly where Guillermo was from! I looked around. There was no one else on the street but the three of us. Over a cup of tea an hour later, Sylvia took out some pictures of her family and in one of the pictures there was a man from Chile, who had been visiting her in Croatia, where she lives. He was my husband´s barber in Chile! The "coincidence" was incredible, to say the least. We hugged and promised to stay in touch, especially since Sylvia, it turned out, was a guide who did tours to Medjugorje in Spanish. I called her a few weeks before our intended trip at the end of March to ask her if she thought that she would be in Medjugorje for Easter weekend and especially on the 30th so that we could have tea together and talk about Chile. She said that she would definitely be there. I knew that she had contact with the six visionaries because she said that she sometimes arranged lectures in Spanish for visitors, translating for the group. I thought that it would be very special if I could meet one of the visionaries, but didn´t intend to press her again, and left it up to the Universe to work it out.

 

The big day arrived! Bonnie and I were picked up at 8:30 a.m. to get an early start and arrived at our hotel around 12:00, after stopping at a local café with the driver, for a cup of very strong coffee, typical to the area. The night before, I had spoken with Sylvia and found out that she wouldn’t be going to Medjugorje for Easter weekend. Disappointed that I wouldn’t be meeting one of the visionaries and getting a chance to explain that it was my birthday, I was, nevertheless, ready for an adventure and arrived with a feeling of excited anticipation.

 

We immediately dropped our bags in the room and set out for Apparition Hill for the rugged climb up to the statue of Mary. This time, there were lots of people; some could hardly walk, others had canes and looked rather frail. Nevertheless, they trudged onward and upward, and one could see their expressions of joyful expectation. Finally, we saw the white statue in all its glory with the bright, warm sun shining down on it. Some of the people were surrounding the statue with books and rosaries, doing their own thing, praying with complete devotion and love. You could see it on their faces. For a few minutes, I just stood there and watched them. One young woman climbed up to the Virgin (the statue is placed on a foot high concrete star) and kissed her feet, resting her head devotedly on Mary’s arm, with her eyes closed in prayer. At the beginning of Apparition Hill, a tour guide was giving a lecture to an English-speaking group. The amount of people this weekend differed greatly in numbers from the time my husband, Guillermo, and I had been there in February. At one point, we were completely alone with the statue. As I looked around this time, I could see one young woman writing; others were praying, people were now coming in larger numbers and I decided to sit on a rock in front of the statue and meditate. I had written down a few notes before my arrival so that I wouldn’t forget the things I wanted to pray about – forgiveness, releasing fear, world peace, etc., and as I looked around once again, I was reminded of the magic I had felt on my first trip – the devotion and belief of the people, their belief in the apparitions, and their faith in Mary herself. These people were here because it gave them hope. They believed that their prayers would be answered. They emptied their hearts and souls, knowing that Mary would indeed hear them and help them.

 

I looked over to where Bonnie was sitting and saw her quietly meditating in front of the Virgin. I thought again of how special this day was – my birthday. I shouted it to myself – Happy Birthday, Rosalie! I turned my face to the bright sun and gave thanks for all that I was and asked for some kind of sign for my birthday. What did I really expect? I didn’t know. I certainly didn’t think I would look up and see a banner flying – Happy Birthday! I knew the day was special, I knew that I wanted to be in Medjugorje, and I was so happy to be sharing it with a loving friend. These were truly birthday gifts. But more, much more, was to be received.

 

It was time to go back down the rocky hill and make room for the masses of people beginning to arrive. At the information center next to the St. James Church, we were told that the time had changed for the Easter Sunday English Mass from 10 to 12. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t have time to witness the mass, as we had to leave at 12 to return to Sarajevo. Bonnie and I decided to go to the church to see a statue of Mary. I had heard that Mary had also appeared there. When we entered the church, we heard singing in English and sat down in the only two seats that seemed available. The English mass had just begun! What luck! While in the church, my mind again drifted to the fact that this was my birthday and Holy Saturday, as well. The mass was beautiful and the sermon, of course, was about the resurrection. I was reminded of the unity of life and the continuation of the circle, how we are all connected and that there is no death.

 

After the mass, it was time to have lunch. We had fasted the day before on the Cayce-recommended Apple diet and were ready for some real food! We passed lots of souvenir shops on the way to the restaurant, but were not tempted at that time. However, after a long and luxurious lunch, we found ourselves browsing here and there in the shops on the way back to the hotel. My eye caught sight of something glittering in the window of a jewelry shop. I stopped to look. It was an aquamarine ring, which I knew was my birthstone. I didn’t own one of those, I thought! I asked the lady to take it out of the window. It was magnificent. It was set in white gold and the stone itself was rather large and square, brilliantly shining in the night as I slipped it on my third finger. It was perfect! I had to have it. After all, it was my birthday and my birth stone! Bonnie encouraged me, of course! What are good friends for, anyway, right? I bought the beautiful aquamarine ring and kept it on my finger, glancing at it every once in a while, as we walked back to the hotel. I really couldn’t believe I had just done that. How wonderfully impulsive!

 

Back at the hotel, Bonnie and I talked some more about what a truly delightful day we’d had, how the weather had been perfect, and how happy I was with my new acquisition.

 

The next day, Sunday, was Easter. After breakfast, we went to the Oasis of Peace, which is a place in Medjugorje where there is a church and a sanctuary donated by a group of Italians in honor of Mary. Silence in the sanctuary was requested, making it ideal for meditating. It was extremely beautiful, with a lovely, small statue of Mary. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and during our walk, we saw three small white butterflies form a line right in front of us. What a blessing! We knew that butterflies represented eternal life and that seemed to fit so beautifully into the Easter theme. Someone had suggested that we also visit the location of the "Blue Cross," another area near Apparition Hill with two large blue crosses and two small statues of Mary. I believe that Mary had been seen in that location during the early years of the apparitions. People were praying silently. It was also a very peaceful and special place, where the pilgrims’ devotion to Mary was heartwarmingly apparent.

 

According to the tour guide, Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, one of the six children who had been receiving messages from the beginning, is still receiving daily messages from Mary. It is said that the Blessed Virgin also gives monthly messages to the masses on the 25th of each month. While the Catholic Church does not negate the apparitions, the only statement they have made about them is that they are still studying all of the material they have received about Medjugorje.

 

The time had now arrived for us to depart Medjugorje for our trip back to Sarajevo. Friends from my office had invited us to a combination Easter/birthday dinner. As soon as we arrived, I flashed my new acquisition around and showed them all the magnificence of my aquamarine ring. There were oohs and aahs all over the room. Andrea, a young American woman, who had been co-hosting the dinner, left the table and returned a minute later, dangling a beautiful bracelet in front of my eyes. It was filled with aquamarines and small diamond chips on a delicate gold chain. "Rosalie," she said, "I want you to have this. It was my grandmother’s and she gave it to me about 10 years ago, but I’ve never worn it." The bracelet was splendid! I asked her if she was sure and she said that she was. I was extremely touched and truly taken aback by this very special gesture. I had met Andrea briefly twice before and had given her There Is A River, on an impulse, feeling that it would be a book she would definitely connect with. In addition, I had given her a small prayer card with Mary’s picture on it because she had casually mentioned her grandmother’s interest in the Blessed Virgin when we had seen each other before.

 

We had a wonderful turkey dinner. Everyone sang happy birthday and we were all given little plastic eggs with gifts inside – small toys that we had to assemble. This was definitely not my forte (it was after all, meant for three year olds!), but I did it in spite of myself, and turned to Andrea to show her my wonderful toy truck!

 

"By the way, Andrea," I said, "what is your grandmother’s name?" Andrea looked up at me quite innocently, said "it’s Mary."

 

I just looked at Andrea blankly for what seemed eons, not able to believe my ears. I had just received an unexpected birthday gift with my birthstone from MARY! The significance of this threw me, temporarily. I was dumbfounded and couldn’t speak for several long seconds. There was complete silence in the room. I turned to look at Bonnie and knew that she instantly understood. This was the sign. I had received a birthday gift from Mary.

 

I walked home in a daze, unable to fully absorb the miracle that had just taken place, yet it was so simple. Andrea had been used as a channel of blessings! I kept going over the story in my head to be sure I had it right! It just seemed so incredible, yet normal! I had a strong desire to talk to Andrea about it some more. What made her give me the bracelet, which was apparently quite personal, not to mention expensive?

 

Bonnie was leaving Sarajevo the next morning to go back to Turkey. The phone rang while we were getting ready. It was Andrea. Bonnie had left her sunglasses there and we had to make a quick trip to Andrea’s to pick them up. I was delighted, knowing that we would be able to fill in the missing piece of the puzzle – the reason that Andrea felt she had to give me that particular bracelet at that particular time. Andrea had already had a birthday present wrapped for me which she gave to me after dinner. That made the gift of the bracelet even more fascinating.

 

Andrea’s reason, was, of course, what we had expected to hear. When she saw the aquamarine ring, she "felt" that the bracelet her grandmother had given her many years ago, which she had brought to Sarajevo and had never worn, should, without a doubt, be given to me. She said that she had been carrying it around for years and didn’t know what to do with it or why she had even brought it to Sarajevo, when most of her things were still in the US, where she would be returning in December.

 

I later found out that Mary, Andrea’s grandmother, had a very serious interest in Marian Shrines and that she had visited several, taking Andrea with her whenever she could. Andrea was used as a channel of blessings and I was the lucky recipient. I was amazed and delighted to be part of this miraculous manifestation of Mary’s love. As I look at the bracelet on my wrist, I know that it’s a symbol of the promise that where thou go, I shall always be with you.

 

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my prayer on Saturday, March 30th, my birthday, was heard and answered. Our prayers are all heard, no matter how small. This, then, remains the magic of not only Medjugorje, but of the universal promise of love, which includes each and every one of us. We are not alone – there is always help and hope. We need only believe in the magic to receive the gift.

 

Mary’s message is Peace and that only peace must reign between us and God and between all human beings everywhere. Let us believe in the magic of Mary’s message and give this gift to each other.

 

     

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