In the center of Cartago there is a church known as La Basilica de la Virgen de los Angeles. In 1635, it is told that a statue of the Virgin was found in the forest by an Indian girl. She took it home and put it in a box. When she returned to the forest the next day, she found the statue again in the same place. When she went home, the statue was gone from the box. This same sequence of events happened to her several more times. She told her priest about the miracle and he took the statue from the forest and locked it in a box in his church. The statue performed the same miracle, and so it was decreed that the Virgin must have wanted a church built over that very spot in the forest.
On August 2nd every year, Costa Ricans come to La Basilica as a pilgrimage, some walking for days across the country and crawling on their knees from the start of the aisle up to the altar. Several of us went to the church yesterday and today to witness the extreme devotion that Costa Ricans feel for this church and for the Virgin Mary. They come here to ask for help and healing and peace and luck, something we can all use a little more of. There is a river that flows under the church and there is a small spring where people collect the holy water in bottle, wash their faces in it, and drink it as an elixir of all things in their lives that they wish to come true, things that they wish to change.
I am not a religious person, and haven't been for a long time, though I do find religion to be a compelling area of study and I do believe fervently in a higher purpose and power. I do believe we are all connected; my religion is simply kindness. Hearing the miracles that the church has performed for people in Costa Rica, I felt compelled to pay my respects, to ask the Universe for help me now at this time in my life as I make big changes to transform it into the life I want to live, and I did wash my face in the holy water.
Sometimes, we must accept that there are things that do not make sense to us, things that happen and sources of power that we cannot see nor explain. I don't know if the Virgin appeared in the forest and I don't know that a church needed to be built on that site in Cartago. I do know that faith is a very powerful feeling, that it is capable of accomplishing that which we cannot possibly accomplish without it. I do believe in our ability to change, and every once in a while I believe that miracles really do happen. Today, was one of those days.
I left the church and I did feel a little bit more brave as I headed back to the house. Perhaps bravery and our ability to change that which we do not like in our lives is a miracle in and of itself.