Father Abadie offers us a personal meditation: starting with what he experienced during the Magnificat Year (2001), he presents us with the following pastoral theme based on water.
He walked, his footsteps digging even deeper into the sand… It was like a slow and unstoppable sinking. He kept walking, his eyes riveted on a horizon that was forever changing yet always staying the same with the ocher dunes rolling under an unforgiving sun. He kept walking… He walked like a robot, no longer caring where he was going… Was he even going anywhere? Was he going in the right direction, or had he been going around in circles for a long time? How would he know?
He kept walking, but in spite of that, was he anything but an unmoving spot in an immense space, while time marched on? And he was thirsty… Soon the sensation of thirst was all that remained… He had this thirst, a handful of dried herbs at the back of his throat, but mostly this calling out, this desire, crying out from deep within him, this visceral thirst… This thirst that invaded him to the point that he was simply this thirst, this calling out, this desire… This horribly silent cry from deep within him. All that was left of him was this cry…
Sometimes though, a huge lake would appear between the dunes, a shining lake with palm trees reflected in it, but it was only a dream, a mirage. A dream that turned into a nightmare, the illusion of a sick imagination, or an evil power’s lie. Sometimes it was a waterfall, bubbling foam flowing over a rock, but that was just a childhood memory, from the days when he had been a shepherd, far away in a paradise that he couldn’t return to.
It was at this time that he thought about his life and how it had only been a long path that he had stumbled upon, a slow sinking downward, a stubborn and desperate walk towards a fleeing horizon, with dreams that evaporated when he got near them and memories, images and feelings from the past that would only disappear in time, like the foam of a wave left on the shore after the wave has disappeared.
He kept walking, he walked on despite everything and he thought he was still walking after he had fallen to the ground, his arms stretched out in the form of a cross, his face in the ground, and his mouth full of sand.
At this moment he finally woke up…
A dark-skinned hand was handing him a flask of pinkish water, but this water seemed to him clearer and fresher than any mountain water. He thought to himself that this water saved his life, but one day no water would be able to save him down here.
And it was then that from the depths of his childhood he heard someone say to him: “For those who drink the water that I give them will never thirst again…”, and immediately he felt himself being washed by another hand, just like his mother’s hand when she splashed him with water from Massabielle and he was surprised to hear himself say in that superb and mysterious unknown language that we learn a little only for Mass, or singing vespers: Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord, because he took interest in me, his humble servant).
Father Jean-Baptiste ABAD/E, M.I.C.,
chaplain at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes