In 2007, I coordinated a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Croatia; the first time I went, my son Tyler, missed me so much he insisted on joining me the second time. When we arrived Medjugorje visionary, Ivan Dragicevic, extended to us an invitation to join him on Apparition Hill in the evening to be present during an apparition. This invitation extended to many of the pilgrims and all were thankful for the invitation, because during these apparitions, there have been many documented reports of healing, conversions, mystical phenomena, etc., so this invite was a blessing to our group. After supper, we headed for Apparition Hill.
Apparition Hill is fairly steep, overpopulated with rocks, slippery clay dirt and absolutely NO electricity, so at night it is pitch black. Due to the massive crowds making this climb, the elderly and handicap as well, climbing the hill was at a crawl and for my adolescent boy, too slow. He said to me, “Mom, I’ll meet you at the top.” and before I could say NO, he disappeared into the crowd. My heart sank…. We were in a third world Country, we didn’t plan ahead as to what to do if you get lost, I do not know the Croatian language, when it gets dark it will be nearly impossible to find him and what if he were kidnapped? These thoughts and many more were racing through my mind. I climbed as fast as I could to reach the top and find him. Instead I found a massive sea of people and no Tyler in sight. I was told that the ferry boats had just let off, tons of people for the apparition. We were packed in like sardines, I had trouble lifting my arms let alone finding my son. I kept asking people, “did you see my boy” and they replied in Italian, French, German, Croatian and other languages I do not know. It was now dark and I was freaking out.
A man named, John, who was in our group came to me and said he had a flash light, he scanned all the perimeters and he thought he saw a shadow of my son in the far distance, on the other side of the hill next to the cross. When he shone the light to show me, I could see a smaller figure bouncing all over the place (which is just like him) the problem was this figure appeared to bounce right off of the hill and disappear. John said, “ah oh” dropped the flashlight and my hope soon waned.
Suddenly, everyone fell to their knees as the apparition began. I closed my eyes and tried to be calm and feel peace, when I heard a voice, prominently speak to my heart and I knew it was Mary. She said, “My dear child, what is the desire of your heart?” stunned, I began searching my heart. I always thought I had too many desires so, what would I ever ask for if given the opportunity, yet at this moment all I could think of was, my son and to find him “safe”. I replied to her, “all I want is my son, all I want is my son” and at that very moment, I felt a connection to how she felt when she lost her son in the temple. She, like me, lost her son on a pilgrimage, he was around the same age and she looked anxiously for him. I immediately felt unity with her and peace. The apparition was then over and John came back to me and said, “what do you want to do?” and I suddenly remembered that at home whenever one of my children were out of my sight I would whistle and they would hear me, so I whistled, and sure enough he responded and he was five feet away from me. It’s as though she picked him up out of the crowd of 50,000 people and planted him right there, John and I were astounded!!
I asked Tyler where he had been and that I was searching anxiously for him and he replied, why were you searching for me? I told you I would see you at the top, I only went over to the other side of the hill to see Jesus on the cross. I had to laugh at the parallel of Jesus reply to Mary in Luke 2:49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Reflecting on this whole experience as we made our descent down the hill, I realized that there are times in life when we all get spiritually lost. We lose sight of what is most important to us. We lose ourselves to things like reputation, envy, anger, titles, jobs, consumerism, even ourselves in selfishness; the list goes on and on. It’s important to ground ourselves to what is most important to us. The Blessed Mother’s question to me was a memorable one and a good one, not just for me, but for all of us. It invites us to search deep in our hearts for what is most precious. All too often, we don’t realize what that is, until we’ve lost it. People we love get sick, die, move away, divorce, etc., and we live with regret saying, I wish I had said this, or I wish I had done that. Our lives change and we forget how to get back to what is most important. Luckily, Jesus never gives up on us. Luke 15: 4-7 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.