I was raised as a Catholic. I went to Catholic elementary school and attended youth group at church every Wednesday night until I was in eighth grade. Sometime during my sophomore year of high school though, I began to fall away from what I had always believed. By my senior year, I had lost my religion. I can’t be sure of exactly what happened to my faith, whether it was scared away by some skeptical thought of reason or by my own individual, mortal pride. I began to quietly laugh at my faithful peers, mostly wondering what they actually thought of a God who would allow such bad things to happen to people the way they do.
So when my mom told the family over dinner about my grandmother’s trip to a house in Missouri that was hosting Mary and Jesus every Thursday, I couldn’t help laughing at the image of my 63-year-young grandmother puffing away on a cigarette and asking with the most sincerity and a huge smile, “well, where’s Mother Mary?” only to be told that Mother Mary had indeed arrived but my grandmother had just missed her.
I decided to give Grandma Cindy a call just to see what this was all about, and after thirty minutes of her assuring me that I’m too good for any boyfriend, and her heartfelt warnings against “those fraternity boys,” I got her to begin her story. Apparently Mary and Jesus have been appearing all over the world, warning people that God is angry with humanity, and that is the real cause of global warming. She swore that the silver crucifix on her rosary has turned gold after visiting Mary, and she assures me that she will send it to me as proof as soon as I know the address of my dorm at UGA.
Now with all the babble about the end of the world and how angry God is with mankind these days, I hardly need to say how quickly I disregard these warnings (immediately). But the messages this incarnation of Mary has for the world are simple: love God and love each other.
I hung up with my grandma feeling less sure of any position on religion I might have had. Unlike my mom’s hysterical portrayal of my grandma’s reactions, the conversation wasn’t at all funny. She really did believe this.
I envy my grandmother’s faith, not in that she has a close relationship with God, but just that she believes in the possibility of a relationship with God. And I can see clearly now the comfort that religion can bring. It’s a kind of other-worldly comfort that is fleeting in everyday life, and while I can’t yet grasp the security of it myself, I can be assured of its existence in the shiny reflection of light cast by the gold Jesus on the end of a silver rosary.