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I think I met Jesus this morning

Mission Dolores

I walked down to the Mission District in San Francisco today to visit the original Mision San Francisco de Asis, more commonly known as Mission Dolores because it’s near the Creek of Sorrows, Arroyo de los Dolores. After wandering through a beautiful old cemetery and the newer basilica, built in the early 1900s, I found my way to the chapel (first building erected in San Francisco) just as people were leaving daily Mass.

I waited for everyone to clear out and then went closer to the altar to get some photos. That’s when I noticed an old woman sitting in a pew, skull cap pulled far down on her head, raggedy oversized clothes, big bag full of something at her side. She had all the markings of a homeless woman and our eyes met and we both smiled and I said hello and walked on by. But for some reason, just as I was about to leave, something — perhaps the echo of “Whatsoever you do…” that was running through my head at that moment — ¬†told me to go back. And so I did.

I sat down in the pew right behind her, leaned in and asked how she was doing. She smiled again and asked me where I was from and how long I’d been in town and if I had children and a home. And I asked her if she had any family nearby. She said her 27-year-old grandson took care of her, but it was pretty clear that they must be struggling mightily because this woman looked like she had seen some very hard times in her life.

I told her my name was Mary and she loved that and said she would pray for me. (Her name is Zenobia, by the way, in case you’d like to send up some prayers for her. I think she could use them.) And then we talked a while more — about the troubles in our world, about the need for peace and the need for prayers to get that peace. She pulled out a prayer card of St. Jude and told me to take it. Then she held out a little vial of oil from a nearby shrine to St. Jude and told me to bless myself with it. I did what she told me, all the while feeling that I was in the presence of someone very special. We finally said goodbye, promising to pray for each other, and as I walked away my mind kept coming back to Mother Teresa’s challenge to see Jesus in the “distressing disguise of the poor.”

A few minutes later, as I stood in the gift shop, waiting to buy a beautiful wood carving from Mexico, Zenobia came in, saw me, and told the shop manager, “This is Mary from New York!” Then she asked to borrow the phone, and the woman at the register ushered her behind the counter. She came back to me once more, took my hand for a minute, and then left. I asked the woman ringing me up about Zenobia, and she said, “She is the real deal,” and went on to tell me how holy and good and strong Zenobia is and how she has an “interesting effect” on people. And I knew just what she meant.

So I thought I was doing a good deed by sitting down with a poor woman in a pew, but it turns out I was the one who received the greater gift today. I set out to see a church, but I ended up seeing Jesus.

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mary, I am so happy that you met Zenobia!

    October 10, 2013
  2. Jeanne #

    Very touching!

    October 10, 2013
  3. Thanks for sharing this experience with us!

    October 10, 2013
  4. Katie in FL #

    That experience is not surprising at all. When we listen to that small voice encouraging us to do something, we seek to be a blessing, but God blesses us. It is how God’s economy works – completely opposite of the world’s economy.

    October 10, 2013
  5. Wow, what a story! Forget story, what an experience!

    October 11, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      It was the best moment of the entire SF visit. :-)

      October 13, 2013
  6. Stef Hoina #

    Loooooooooove this!

    October 11, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thank you!!

      October 13, 2013
  7. Wow! Inspiring!

    October 16, 2013
  8. My Mary
    Posted by Sharon Rose on March 23, 2013 at 6:51pm
    View Blog
    Probably around 16 years ago, I prayed to God to bring Mary to me to help strengthen me during a painful time. I had been praying and promoting the rosary but wanted a deeper relationship with her. Well, as that day progressed, I took my children to the park and watched them playing. I knew God heard that prayer along with all the others and was somewhat on the lookout for some supernatural happening. I struck up a conversation with a lady who was there with her grandchildren. She turned out to be the mother of one of my closest friend’s neighbors. No big deal – we were in the same neighborhood, but we introduced ourselves and she said her name was Mary. I chuckled to myself because God had answered my prayer by me stepping out of my problems, focusing on the kids just being kids, and everyday chance meetings and conversations with others. God told me that His mother loved me and that His and her love are in us all. He reminded me, once again, that He was in control and that I did not need an outward miracle to remind me. Fasttrack to about 5 or 6 years later. I was entering church to go to mass – it was August 10th, the day I miscarried my Joseph Anthony years before. I liked to have a mass read on that day every year but even though I had not done that on that particular day, I still went up to a scheduled afternoon mass in his memory. To my surprise, there was no mass – I still don’t know why, and neither did a lady who was also trying to attend that mass. We stood outside of church bewildered. She was a sweet, funny lady – we talked for a minute, laughing like maybe we both made some sort of mistake. She was very disappointed about not being able to go to mass and I explained to her why that day’s mass was so important to me. We introduced ourselves – and she invited me to go to the restaurant across the street for coffee. I said, you are so sweet – you’re my Mary today. She laughed – we went for coffee and had a very interesting conversation about our love of God, the Church, pro-life outreach and homeschooling. It was a lovely time and I really enjoyed her enthusiasm, vitality, and Godly spirit. We have been friends over the years. Her and her husband invited my daughter and I to their home for a weekly reading/study of Humanae Vitae. We did prolife activities together and occasional rosary meetings. I can go months without even seeing or talking with her but when we do, it’s a strong bond and resumed friendship. Her and her husband Don are very involved in many prolife activities and are very prayerful people who are great examples of living a Sacramental life and love of Jesus in the Eucharist. Last Saturday, we attended a talk from a sister from the Schoenstatt movement of which we both have past affilliations. (google that if you do not know what Schoenstatt is – you will be pleasantly surprised and blessed). Sister Angela talked about many things but made a statement about how we should all strive to be Marian women – women with Mary as our model. I couldn’t help but reach out and put my arm around Mary sitting next to me and say, you are already my model of Mary – MY MARY! God put her in my path on a day I needed her, He had put the lady Mary in my path that day at the park to remind me of the nurturing nature women share with each other, He puts countless women in my path and life who reflect Mary’s holiness. Would you like to meet My Mary and let her lead you to a closer relationship with her Son? I believe God put a special quality in the hearts of women – reach out in this hurting world – be a reflection of Mary to someone who especially needs it and keep your eyes open -you surely will encounter Mary often!

    October 19, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Sharon,

      What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it.

      I write a lot about these kinds of relationships in my book on spiritual friendship, “Walking Together.” You’re right, God always puts people in our path when we least expect them and most need them. Glad God put you on my today. :-)

      Peace,
      Mary

      October 19, 2013
  9. Julia Melges-Brenner #

    I’ve just discovered your writing, Mary, and I think YOU are the real deal! Thanks for sharing your light with the world. :)

    October 20, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Julia,
      Thank you so much. What a nice thing to say!
      Peace,
      Mary

      October 21, 2013
  10. Ann Pawlik #

    Wow, Mary, what an awesome experience. Thank you for sharing it. I will keep Zenobia in my prayers. This always happens: we think WE are helping someone, when really THEY are impacting us.

    October 24, 2013
  11. Best wishes, Mary. Simplicity & Facility

    November 1, 2013
  12. Beautiful story! So glad I stumbled onto it. :)

    November 16, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thank you!

      November 16, 2013
  13. susan prince #

    The Lord is everywhere and we are usually to blind to see Him. A few years ago, my husband, an unbeliever, was taking a trip through Germany, simply for pleasure. One thing about the trip he has brought up several times: He was visiting a large cathedral somewhere, I don’t know where, when he saw a mother with her child who reached out her hand to him as if to request money. He said “I ignored her and then felt strange in my being. As I looked around at the pictures, I felt more and more “driven” to go find her and help us, but everywhere I looked, she was gone! Absolutely gone. I have thought to this day that I was supposed to give to her.” My husband is a scientist and that has created something like a veil which he can’t see. I believe that was the Lord reaching out His hand, again, for my husband.

    Thank you for your blog.

    February 5, 2014
  14. susan prince #

    The Lord put that thought in your mind…. it is something which evil would never have done.

    February 5, 2014

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