I had had a big fight with my mom and brother. I was walking super fast across town. It was cold and I had forgotten a jacket. A car full of girls from school drove by, rolling their windows down to jeer and shout insults.
I picked up a few rocks and bottles to throw at them, satisfied when glass shattered hard against metal, and the car drove away, leaving me in silence.
I stalked across A & M campus, an angry sob rising in my chest. I remember leaves blowing across the wide, concrete spaces between buildings. No one was around. Even the fountains were off.
It was a long walk to my dad’s house. It seemed to go on forever.
When a pretty, smiling girl came riding up and hopped off her bike, I was surprised and exasperated. When she asked if she could talk to me, and said she really felt God wanted her to talk to me, I just wanted to put my face in my hands.
Raised without religion in a small Texas town, I was used to being “talked to.” Sometimes I felt trapped and embarrassed, sometimes offended. I did know the best thing was to attempt to be polite and get it over with.
So I told her she could talk to me if she wanted. She started pushing her bike alongside me.
We must have made a funny pair; a young smiling woman with bouncy brown hair, in a pink ski jacket, jeans and white running shoes, pushing her bicycle beside a miserable looking teenaged girl in ripped up jeans over hand painted long johns, combat boots, Crass t-shirt, and navy blue beret over her shaved head.
The girl asked about my life, what I had been doing. I found myself telling her this and that. I noticed she seemed sad at times and I wondered why.
After a while she said she had a message for me from God. She said God wanted me to know that He loved me. He wanted to warn me that my life ahead was going to be a hard one, but He would be with me.
“You don’t have to follow God in the same way everyone else does,” she went on. God wanted me to know that was OK, and that I was special to Him. “You can believe in God in your own way.”
The girl in the pink ski jacket asked if she could hug me. “I just really want to, is that OK?”
I let her hug me. She said she loved me. This was sure a weird day I was having.
When she said she must be going on, I realized I hadn’t asked her name.
“Mary,” she smiled. I remember her shy shrug in the sunshine.
We both turned to go our own ways when I thought I should thank her. She meant well, I knew.
There was no one there, wherever I looked in that clean, open space.
I was lying broken and helpless in he middle of the busiest intersection in town. It was night. People were running to and away from me. I watched their feet. I was aware of the glare of head lights from different directions, of raised voices, light from the familiar gas station on he corner. Someone said the attendant had called 911.
There was a gentle glow growing in the corner of my vision. I tried to turn toward it. This light was communicating to me. Even though I didn’t “believe in God,” there was no question to me that this glow was God. God was asking a question.
“Do you want to die now?”
I thought about it.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure,” I answered honestly.
“OK. Think about it . I will come back later and ask again.”
When the medics came I was able to give my parents names and addresses, to say what day it was, (March 24, 1984) to answer who was president, (Reagan) to tell my name, how old I was, (16.)
Later, my dad was more than surprised that I had overheard his conversations with the doctor in the ER. He says that is impossible because they were in another room from me. But I can repeat every word. I was conscious of my mother arriving, and I heard her tell the doctor my lips and face were not usually this color, that I usually had good color, not a monochromatic face. I heard her demand pain medication for me, and he explanation about why none had been given yet.
I had been hit by a car as I crossed Texas Avenue on foot at night. My pelvis was crushed, my right ankle and wrist broken, my neck sprained. I had internal bleeding. I had been thrown 92 feet in all, with a bounce in between.
I was staring hard at a dull painting of blue bonnets at the end of my hospital bed. I realized that there was a woman in draped in black, holding a rosary, and praying incessantly beside my I.V. pole. I had no idea what she was saying. I tried to stay awake for her but I kept nodding off.
After what seemed like hours, I noticed she was silent. I felt awkward. Should I say something? I couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally I told her, “That was a very nice prayer. Did you make that up yourself?” No answer. After a while I fell asleep again.
Later I asked about her. Nobody knew who I could possibly be talking about.
Later, God came back. The blue bonnet painting disappeared and the quiet light came through the wall, asking, “Have you thought about it? What did you decide?”
“Yes. I’ve decided I want to live.”
“Are you sure? If you live, your life will be very difficult, very hard.
“I want to live. I want to be strong, like my granny, and live. “
During Lent we allow the Holy Spirit to perfect us, to examine our lives. The Spirit can help us to see the flash points in our own stories where God has placed before us life and death. We reflect on what we have chosen, and what we choose now. We recognize that the Beloved accepted and entered into the most profound suffering, including our own.
Many times in our lives we have died. The death infused with faith, hope, and love, leads us to ultimate life. Sometimes we can be frozen by grief, by our inner death. At these times, God will often intervene with love; sometimes in small daily events of our lives, things people say, or symbolic happenings that remind us of the language of dreams. Sometimes, as in my life stories above, God can be more obvious in ways that give us needed strength for the future as it unfolds for us.
This Holy Week and Triduum let us experience deeply the Church’s unified meditation on the choices Jesus made and the love with which He chose, we reflect on the Divine Human Life He became most fully by dying, and how, in that dying and rising, He has divinized our Christian bodies and souls, presenting us with the possibility of Life.
Whatever is happening with you, God is with you. Your relationship with God is unique and precious to Him. He has been with you at every turn, always allowing you to choose, and following your steps with love. He has sent His mother to prophesy to you, to companion you, to pray over you when you needed her. He has come to you with gentle love and asked you with an open hand, and an accepting heart,
“Do you want to live?”