“You know how water goes bad?” a Japanese friend asked me over coffee at Starbucks once.
“Excuse me?” I said.
She explained that she was talking about how a glass of water left out on the counter becomes undrinkable.
Personally, I leave my water lying out all the time, but by now I was starting to feel self-conscious, so I just said, “That’s interesting, I’ve never heard that in America.”
So we established that she keeps her water in her refrigerator lest it spoil. And you know what else she had in her refrigerator? A bottle of miraculous spring water from Lourdes.
Now this, I had to hear.
“I attended a Catholic school,” said this avowed agnostic, “and there was a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in a grotto there. I liked that grotto, but I always wondered what ‘Lourdes’ meant. Then my husband was transferred to France for his work. We lived in the countryside there, and one day I was looking at a map of the area and saw the town of Lourdes!”
She explained how she had gone to visit the legendary grotto, where multitudes who had been healed left their crutches leaning against the rock walls as a testimony. She hadn’t been able to resist buying a couple bottles of the miraculous water as souvenirs.
The bottles stayed in her fridge for years, while she and her husband enjoyed perfect health.
Then one day she found out that a friend’s husband was gravely ill. It was thought that he might die. Her friend happened to be Christian, so she figured why not, and gave her one of the bottles of water.
By now I was practically holding my breath. “And?” I said. “What happened?”
“I don’t know if it was the water or not, but he got better,” she said.
I couldn’t help but smile and think, Our Lady is calling you! But I didn’t say anything–I knew she didn’t see it that way. I wondered, if a miracle wasn’t enough, what it would take for her to consider the possibility that Our Lady’s intercession is real.
“I still have the other bottle in my fridge,” my friend concluded her story. “It’s been there for 25 years!”