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July 22, 2018

Woman with a Jug

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13 My lips will shout for joy as I sing your praise;  my soul, too, which you have redeemed. Ps 71:23

There was no way for her to know. How could she? She called me the happiest girl and she was happy for me. My joy made Nancy Evans happy. But how could she know the depths of terror that led to the joy she was witnessing in me?

Looking back, I realize that my imagination had run away with me, but paralyzing fear can be all too real for children whether it’s rational or not. Somehow, at the age of 11 or 12, I became obsessed with death.

Death became a nightly presence. When I lay in bed I was plagued with morbid thoughts, terrified that I would never wake up. I imagined coffins lined in pink satin, the moist earth with its worms slowly consuming my body. Sounds melodramatic, I know, but death’s proximity was very real in my haunted mind and held me captive.

I’ve tried to pinpoint the cause of my preoccupation with death at such a young age and for the life of me have no idea what could have possibly triggered such an intense, unhealthy fear. I didn’t consider the faith lessons I had learned or the rosaries I had prayed. Death became the one truth for me. I would die. Darkness invaded my heart especially at night.

I don’t know how long I lived under death’s gloomy spell but I remember clearly the day I was delivered.

It was a beautiful summer day and I was in my bedroom changing into my bathing suit, getting ready to go to our neighborhood pool with my brother, Patrick. My thoughts must have turned again to my now relentless preoccupation, but they were interrupted by a ray of light.

I heard a voice.

It was clear as crystal, and it said, “You will be with me forever.”

I froze, What?

Again, like crystal, “You will be with me forever.”

I recognized my Savior’s voice as His words soaked into my being, and joy flooded in. Sheer ecstatic joy.

You indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. Ps 63:8

I knew things now. I knew that was I loved by the One who is Love. I knew that I would live with Him forever. He said it. He promised it. I took Him at His WORD. Light rushed in and understanding. No darkness now, not with Him. Only joy, only love, only light. I rushed downstairs and announced to my mother, Mom! I can’t wait to die! I’m going to be with Jesus!

She stared at me, speechless.

Then I rounded up Pat and proclaimed the goodness of the Lord to him as we walked together to the pool. He too was left without words.

This is how the Lord operates. He sees a silly though terrified little girl and decides to enter her darkness and fill it with the light of His love. When we hear the voice of God, we know love and a joy no one can take from us.

Even now, when darkness threatens to overwhelm me, I can feel it. There’s this little bubble of joy waiting deep inside, ready to burst through.

My whole life changed that day over 50 years ago. The transformation was obvious and my friend, Nancy Evans, was my witness.

Ana Maria Garcia

 

Ana María García is a Catholic lay evangelist representing Good News International. She proclaims the Gospel and witnesses to the healing power of God’s love and mercy. Ana María is the mother of three children, grandmother of four, and a parishioner of the Church of St. Luke in Toms River. “I believed, therefore I spoke.” 2 Cor 4:13