The history of God’s intervention on our behalf often involves revelation through the simplest of people. The Church’s fierce adherence to the dignity of all human life from Conception to Natural Death is deeply rooted in an understanding that all people, regardless of apparent intellectual or physical “shortcomings’ are made in the image and likeness of their Creator. The Lord’s Water is testimony to the universal ability of any person to comprehend and experience the goodness of God as well as to highlight the value of devotion to those sites made holy by divinely ordained apparitions. Objects to inspire devotion (sacramentals), such as rosaries, medals, and holy water play a prominent role in the telling of this story.
The cave was dark, cold and slimy. Micah was terrified, groping in the blackness. He slipped and lost his footing, and began free-falling down a drafty chasm. His long descent was broken by a springy, sticky substance which rendered him helpless – he could not move his arms and legs. As he struggled to free himself, a sickly yellow light began to illumine the darkness until he could make out the twitching fangs of the giant spider that was crawling toward him, its long and hairy legs gracefully negotiating the walls of his prison. The scream of terror bursting from his lungs made no sound….
Micah awoke with a start, drenched in a cold sweat, and as he strained to focus his eyes, he realized he had no idea where he was. Like the surreal nightmare from which he had just escaped he was lying on his back, not in a web, but on a bed, but he could not move his arms and legs. He was restrained by a straitjacket, but he did not know what that was; he only knew he was bound by straps that were preventing his crossed arms from moving.
He glanced at the walls, looking for clues. There were two signs, but because they lacked graphics or a shape with which he was familiar, they were unintelligible to him. The bad man must have tied him up and the bad man was most likely coming back to do him harm.
“Ma….where ma?” he screamed. If Ma was with him, the bad man would not come. He only came when Micah was alone.
A kindly looking older woman dressed in what Micah thought were light green pajamas rushed from the open doorway to his side.
“Ah, sonny, you’ve had a nightmare, haven’t you? Everything will be alright. Rosie is here with you. Mama will be here soon.”
The nurse scanned a strip across his forehead and then studied the reading.
“No temperature, that’s good. Are you thirsty, Micah? Could I get you a drink of water?”
Micah shook his head. Although he was thirty-one years old, his countenance betrayed an unsullied innocence.
“Please…please stay. Keep the bad man away.”
The nurse glance at her watch and her pale blue eyes crinkled into a smile.
“For a few minutes, Micah. I will stay for a few minutes.”
There were tubes and blinking lights that beeped on a tall stand stationed next to his bed. Rosie pressed some buttons which made the lighted numbers change.
“Micah, I’m just giving you something to help you go to sleep again. Try to relax. I will be here with you.”
Micah fought the drowsiness that was overtaking him. Sleep, once a refuge of calm and safety, he now dreaded because there lurked more monstrous evils than just the bad man. Within two minutes, he was breathing deeply. Rosie pulled the covers to his chin and gently wiped his moist brow. “May St. Michael guard your sleep, angel.”
When Micah awoke, Ma was looking down at him, and next to her was the tall doctor with the thick black glasses whom he had met last week.
“Ma, where this? Why I here? Why can’t move?” he pleaded.
“Micah, don’t you remember last night? You wanted to leave and you pushed your father down when he tried to stop you. The two of us couldn’t hold you. We had to call the police. They brought you here so that everyone would be safe.”
Micah struggled to remember the terror. Yes, now he remembered. The bad man was going to hurt his sister. He wanted to drive his truck to her house. To warn her. To stop the bad man.
“Jenny OK, Ma? Did bad man hurt her?”
“No Micah, Jenny’s fine. There was no bad man.” Her countenance was pained but patient.
“Honey, I will be in the hallway with Dr. Ryan. You can see me in the doorway, alright? I’ll be right back.”
Rosie the nurse was busy adjusting his bed and checking the beeping lights. Micah watched Ma while she talked to the tall doctor.
“I’m afraid we might need to try some stronger sedation, Mrs. Parks. The night nurse said Micah appeared to be having hallucinations in his sleep. His condition seems to be getting more serious.”
Tears welled in the mother’s swollen eyes.
“I don’t know what to do Doctor. He’s having these episodes more and more frequently. Every time we leave the house he calls us, claiming there is someone outside his window. We could usually calm him down but now the imagined threats seem to be expanding beyond just himself. He is so strong! I don’t think my husband and I can deal with him if he goes into another rampage like last night.”
Dr. Ryan nodded.
“Mrs. Parks, I’d like you to talk to one of the counselors here. You and your husband may want to consider a supervised living arrangement for Micah.” A tear rolled down Molly Parks’ cheek and she nodded.
Mrs. Parks was gently stroking her troubled son’s forehead as he twitched in a fitful sleep. Rosie entered to check vital signs. After a few moments, she broke the awkward silence.
“I noticed the rosary on his bed stand, Mrs. Parks.”
The mother looked at the nurse warmly. “Please, call me Molly.”
“Molly, Rosie”, said the nurse as she put a comforting hand on the woman’s shoulder.
“Rosie, it must have been you who pinned the miraculous medal on Micah’s pillowcase.”
The nurse nodded.
“Thank you very much… I think prayer is the only thing that is going to see us through this thing.”
Rosie gently touched the medal. “Micah can’t read, can he?”
“No,” Molly confessed, “he is one of those special children who can only read with his heart. But he’s so sweet. You know, he has a full time job. The store where he works…the people love him there. He helps around the house. He keeps his room spotless. He adores his younger sister and her two children. He even owns his own truck and makes his own payments.” Molly Parks gazed lovingly at her sleeping child.
Rosie interjected “Then he’s in good company, you know. Our Blessed Mother seems to also have a special place in her heart for the simple. I would dare say she goes out of her way to appear to those who cannot read”, the nurse chuckled. “You can be assured she watches over him.”
“I never thought of it that way”, Molly replied, “but now that you mention it….the children at Fatima, Juan Diego, Bernadette…they were all illiterate!”
The nurse nodded as Molly continued. “He was just fine until a few months ago, Rosie. That’s when he started hearing voices, and seeing shadows lurking in every corner, in closets, under the bed…I could go on. It started affecting his work. He thought ‘the bad man’ was following him. His nicely ordered life spiraled into chaos. Dr. Ryan thinks we may need to have him institutionalized. I don’t think I could bear that…I just don’t know what to do!”
Rosie gazed at Micah, who was stirring now, and then at the medal on his pillow case.
“You know, I made a pilgrimage to Lourdes once…” Micah’s eyes opened as he slowly revived. His relief was evident when he saw his mother sitting beside him.
“Ma, you here?”
“Yes, son….I’m here. And Rosie is here with us.”
Molly unpinned the medal and held it so that her son could see it clearly.
“See the nice medal that Rosie gave you. Do you know who that is?”
Micah squinted at the tiny image engraved on the medal. His eyes widened in excited recognition.
“Jesus’ Ma…like Christmas!”
“That’s right, son! Before you woke up, Rosie was telling me how she visited a place where Mary…the mother of Jesus…appeared to a little girl.”
Micah became excited. “Yeah…you see Jesus’ Ma?”
Both women laughed.
“No,” Rosie explained “I didn’t see Mary. But a lot of sick people were there to ask her Son to heal them. So, no. I didn’t see her, but I’m pretty sure she was there.”
Concern clouded Micah’s face. “You sick? She fix you? How she fix you?”
A sadness covered Rosie’s face.
“No Micah, it wasn’t me. It was my little girl. She couldn’t walk. She was confined to a wheelchair. Jesus’ mother made a pool of water spring up many, many years ago. Sometimes, when people are lowered into the water, they are made better.”
Micah struggled to process this information. He suddenly brightened and pointed to a wheelchair in the corner of the room. “Girl no need chair…water fix her?”
“No, Micah. Michele didn’t get better. Ever. She is in heaven now.”
Micah drank in Rosie’s sadness, and his eyes misted over. “So sorry. So sorry.”
Molly stood, and embraced her new friend. “Oh Rosie, I too am so sorry.”
Rosie regained her composure, and continued. “Molly, it WAS a big disappointment….for ME. But Michele didn’t look at it that way. She left with a great peace and resignation.”
Rosie pulled a tissue from the box at Micah’s bedside a dabbed her eyes.
“She died a few months later. But she insisted I always keep a bottle of Lourdes water with me. She said, ‘Mother, in your profession you will come across many people much more in need of healing than me. At the right time, use that water. From my place in heaven, I will ask Our Blessed Mother to ask her Son to heal.’”
Rosie turned and picked up the satchel that accompanied her on her rounds. She removed a small bottle and held it up for Micah to see.
“And here it is Micah. Here is Michele’s Lourdes Water.”
“Lord’s water? Oh, yes, Lord’s water. Will Jesus’ Ma fix me with Lord’s water?”
The two mothers locked eyes. Rosie saw a quiet, but urgent pleading in Molly’s gaze.
“If your mother will let me, yes Micah. I think we can anoint you with the water and ask Our Lady to ask her Son make you better.”
She looked at her new companion. “Molly?”
“Yes, please…and we can say a rosary together…the three of us!”
It was two weeks later that Dr. Ryan consulted with Molly Parks.
“Mrs. Parks, Micah seems to have turned a corner. The experimental medication proved very promising in clinical trials, and it appears to have greatly benefited Micah’s condition. He has not reported any hallucinations or paranoid delusions, and he is sleeping soundly. I think we will continue with the medication and gradually cut down on the dosage and see how things go from there.”
Micah was dressed in his own clothing and waiting to be escorted to the parking lot and then home. Rosie had volunteered to wheel him down.
“Rosie, don’t need wheel chair. Can walk good.”
“I know, Micah, but that’s the rules. Enjoy the ride.”
As she helped him into the wheel chair, Micah held the nurse’s hands tightly. “Thank you Rosie. Thank you for Lord’s water. It fixed me.”
“I’m so glad, Micah. So you don’t see the ‘bad man’ anymore?”
“No, no.” Micah cocked his head and motioned for Rosie to lower her head. In a conspiratorial whisper he explained “After the Lord’s water, fall asleep. Jesus’ Ma and little girl come and put hands on shoulder. Say, ‘no more bad man’. And….no more bad man! He gone. Never come back. And Rosie, little girl have eyes like you!”
Rosie blushed, and struggled to hold back the hot tears welling up inside her.
“And Rosie” Micah exclaimed as he gripped the wheels of the chair, “no wheel chair…girl jumping up and down clapping hands!”