I went to a charming little town in the South of Brazil last November, and I had many beautiful experiences there. One of them I feel like sharing today.
There is a lake called Black Lake (it has this name because the trees at the margins came from the Black Forest, in Germany), and there’s a small sanctuary for Saint Mary of the Miracles (I never understood why Saint Mary has so many names!).
It’s a very tiny sanctuary. The lake is artificial, and it’s very round. You can walk the whole circumference, through a corridor decorated by blue hydrangeas everywhere. It’s truly beautiful. Then, you go to a small path to the right, climb a little bit, and, between the flowers, there is a small image of Saint Mary, a tiny pool with stagnated water, and a small fountain of mineral water right below the pool.
When we were passing by it, my baby niece wanted to go to the bathroom, and my sister needed water to clean her. Me and my mother said: “Bring her up here, there is fresh water”. But then we looked closely and saw the stagnated water and I said: “No, it’s not clean water”. So, my sister had to go on by herself looking for a bathroom.
Me and my mother stayed, my father was at the entrance, not willing to climb up there to see a saint (my father likes to say he is agnostic).
I don’t consider myself a religious person, although I love spirituality. And I am definitely not a catholic person, although I do love the figure of Christ.
But my mother loves the Bible, and stayed with me in front of the Saint. I was a little uncomfortable at first, because of my non-catholic convictions, and a little self-conscious (“Am I being disrespectful? How should I behave?”). It was a small, humble little sanctuary in the middle of the nature. Hided amongst bouquets of beautiful blue flowers, so humble and sincere I could not help but feel a bit in awe in front of all that.
My mother should have felt it too, because she headed to the mineral source and started washing her hands: “See, Andressa, I think it’s clean water”. I said “No, mom, it’s stagnated”. But she said: “No, this one below is fresh, and I’m going to taste it”.
I said “You drink it first, and, if it’s good, I’ll drink it too” — oh, I’m such a darling daughter (I know).
My mother drank it and said it was delicious. I drank it too, and I must say I felt it as sweet-golden-fresh, it kind of “cooled” the inside of my body and I felt an expansion, a sort of serene euphoria, an embracement of love.
And we drank more and more, using our hands as cups, and laughing together, me and my mother. We’d stay there for longer, but my father called us. We said good-bye to the Saint with such a joy, and since then I long to come there, many times – and I’ll take a bottle to get more of that water!
When we descended to join our father, a beautiful blue shimmering butterfly danced in front of us, as if leading our way. We were enchanted. Even my father, who wasn’t in a good mood, could not help it. “It’s so beautiful!”
I have no pictures of these moments, but I remember it with a sweet feeling.
I sometimes imagine that sanctuary at night, in the silence, in the cold, under the stars, with nothing but the wind, the flowers, the water, the image of the Saint and the presence of God in it. I think a true sanctuary is like that. I can’t find God in huge churches and basilics and so on. But I think I’d love to meditate in that small, humble sanctuary who reminded me so much of the spirit of Jesus. Even now, when I write these words, I get moved by it.
And who doesn’t love