As the whole world knows, Pope Francis was in DC this week. I’d love to have a story about going to see him, about how we braved the throngs for the glimpse of a lifetime– but I don’t. I have one that’s even better.
It was Ted’s birthday and we opted for a pilgrimage in the opposite direction, up into Pennsylvania where we go periodically to buy raw milk from an Amish farm. So we’re on our way on this sunny and sparkling day, one of autumn’s finest, pulling into a nondescript gas station when we see dozens of luminous figures in snow white robes scattered across the lot. They looked like angels– or butterflies–or at least something from another world, but of course they were nuns! I didn’t mean to stare but I must have had curiosity written all over my face because one of them made eye contact with me and walked directly over as if she knew me from somewhere. She was a beautiful young woman named Sister Theresa, who explained that they were the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist from Ann Arbor, Michigan, traveling back home from DC where they had attended the Papal mass the day before.
“How exciting! Did you see him?” Yes, they’d been within a few feet of him and he blessed them as he walked by. Like myself and many others, they are huge admirers of the Pope and his emphasis on Christ’s word and example over institutional authority. I admired her pendant, and she explained their devotion to Mary as Mother of the Eucharist and their commitment to total consecration to Jesus through Mary. We talked for what seemed like a good while. Ted said later that the pump was unusually slow and when he was finally able to step over and join the conversation, we talked about the newly canonized Junipero Serra who built the Catholic missions up and down the California coast.
“He’s praying for you,” she said to him, as if she knew that Ted calls San Diego his home town, and that he’s on his way this very day to visit our son who has recently moved there. I believed her.
Then she looked at me and pulled a small pouch from beneath the folds of her habit, opened it and placed something in my hand.
“Blessed by the Pope,” she said. It was the Miraculous Medal. We embraced and parted ways and I, who am not even Catholic, felt blessed beyond measure at such a magical encounter and a remembrance to keep forever.
So that’s my story of milk and a miracle.