I had for some time corresponded with Mary through emails. We bounced the internet based conversations to and fro for several months until we made a mutually agreed upon decision to meet face to face. We selected a well-known restaurant where we could talk, get to know one another and have an enjoyable lunch.
I arrived at the meeting place somewhat early and after giving the hostess my name asked if anyone had been asking about me. The young woman, looking a little confused by the question, said, “No, are you expecting someone?” I answered, “Yes,” and after giving my name asked that anyone asking about me be directed to my table.
After the passage of ten or so minutes an attractive well-dressed woman entered the restaurant and as I watched and wondered if she was to be my luncheon companion I saw the hostess nod her head and point to me. Mary, smiling as she spoke, said, “Hello, my name is Mary, you must be Stan.” “Yes,” I replied, “please have a seat.”
Time passed as we became acquainted and the conversation between Mary and I eventually turned to talk of our departed spouses. My words were spoken in tones of sadness and I expressed my feelings of loneliness and despair. She however talked about the hopes and dreams she had for the years in her life which were yet to come. I quietly as Mary spoke.
“We as human beings have been blessed with the gifts of rational thought and free will. Those are great and awesome abilities but at times they can cause our lives to become difficult, and even sad.
“I came to the realization that the decisions we make are based somewhat like the choices made by a computer’s binary code of 1’s and 0’s which are strung together to form bits which are then used to create bytes; A computer makes calculations by either selecting a 1 or a 0, and we make decisions by either deciding yes, or no. There came a moment in my life, a life changing moment, when I decided to select yes, and that moment allowed me to view the future with optimism and hope.
“Have you ever been to Valencia, Spain, well probably not? Several years ago I decided to travel to Europe hoping that a change in scenery would help me recover from a tragic loss. You see my husband passed away and I had fallen so low and into a life of despair. I didn’t think the days ahead held the promise of a better life and I wondered if there existed a reason for me to live.
“As I traveled from country to country and city to city I knew I was searching for something but didn’t know what that elusive thing was, that is until I reached an old cathedral in Valencia, Spain. You’ve probably never hear of this cathedral but it’s called ‘La Cathedral de Valencia.” I knew nothing about the cathedral itself but I had been told that it was a place where miracles might take place, and I was so much in need of a miracle.
“I walked into the old church, I freely admit, with doubt in my mind; the doubt that I believed would remain with me until I eventually followed my husband in death but then I saw the object that caused me to make a computer-like decision and changed my life for the better. I saw the Santo Cáliz, the Holy Chalice, the most blessed of vessels and the cup that the lord Jesus drank from at the last supper many, many years ago.
“As I silently stood there, and I’ll admit feeling somewhat uncomfortable, I listened to the murmuring of hundreds of believers who stood in the cathedral. With bowed heads and interlaced fingers they spoke words like, savior, god and holiest of objects, the Holy Grail. Suddenly it came to me; I could, if I truly wanted to, say yes. I could choose to believe that this relatively ordinary of goblets was once used by Christ himself. I could say yes and accept the idea that the son of God once held the old relic and his thirst was quenched by the liquid contained within.
“I can only describe what happened next as an epiphany. Something unexplained, even to this day, compelled me to say yes, I believe. I looked around the church and I felt as though I was one of the others and no longer a mere bystander. I was filled with the feeling that I belonged to something greater than words could ever describe and the sensation of a comforting peace was almost overwhelming.
“The walk from the cathedral to the street was slow and my mind was full of thoughts of my experience. When the sunlight touched my face I remember feeling as though my mind and heart were then filled with clarity and hope. I believed that my life had purpose and I looked with optimism to the future. Those were feelings I had not had for many years and since the death of my husband. Since that day spent in Valencia my life has been filled with happiness and, more often than not, I continue to say yes.”
Mary became silent as if she were thinking of something important she needed to say. She looked at me and asked, “I’m not preaching to you but can you say yes, I can be happy and I have hope?” I thought for a moment and while looking down I softly uttered the word, “maybe.” I realized that the word did not resolve the issue but simply postponed the yes or no answer and Mary quickly brought that to my attention. After a brief moment I raised my head and while looking into Mary’s eyes I again spoke to her’ “Maybe I can.”
I’m afraid that I’ve said no for so very long that I may not know how to say yes. There have been so many doses of reality thrust upon me that I can no longer remember how to dream. Life has shown me how cruel it can be over and over again and I doubt that I can find the beautiful side of the world I live in. How do I once again find the hope, faith, and yes a reason, to say yes.
The food was good as was the conversation and company kept. I enjoyed a very nice afternoon. As the two of us walked to the parking lot we continued to talk and discussed each other’s plans for the near future. We bid goodbye to one another and as Mary walked away I said, “Mary, I agree with your opinion regarding the need to bring an issue to a resolution but to answer your question, at least for now, I can only say, maybe.”
Everyone has to believe in something and the gift of freewill grants us the ability to choose that one thing. Each day of our lives present us with challenges which require all of us to make decisions. The paths our lives take are shaped by our responses to those issues, and simply stated, our decisions are either yes or no. Mary made a decision that most memorable of days to believe a cup, a chalice, was once held by the son of God. That fateful decision led her to find the glorious faith and happiness that she had for so long lived without.
Mary found her miracle at the Cathedral de Valencia.