Miracle at Christ The Redeemer
Today was our first full day in Rio de Janeiro, leading up to the World Youth Day festivities (Jul. 24th - 28th). We arrived this morning after a 2 hour delayed flight (*I used that time to learn how to properly sign the Lord's Prayer), that then lasted about 9 1/2 hours. The flight was very smooth - Praise God - and included an amazing 30 minute chat with a retired Bishop outside the Lavatory of all places, that I will share in a subsequent blog. Sorry to go out of order but today's story is too good to not lead off with!!
Upon landing, we went immediately to Corcovado to see the Christ the Redeemer statue - pictures by the way do not do it justice, although I was almost not able to say that. Hence the magnificence of today's miracle. Today was beautiful and sunny, nearly 90 degrees (but dry - no, in case you are wondering after a 7 day heat-wave, we don't miss New England), not bad for Winter!! When we arrived at the tram that brings us up the mountain to Christo Redentor, there were blue skies, and I even remarked it was the perfect day for such a blessing. As we ascended the crazy tram ride - think straight up the sheerest cliff you can find (it is 2,300 ft on the top of mountain) - with just wires and pray to get you there. We passed through Tijuca Forest National Park with its lush landscapes, spotted with unbudded deep red flowers, vines, and the occasional graffiti covered abandoned building. As we neared the top it became quite clear that all was not clear - that a thick rolling mist was covering the mountain top and was posed to prevent the throngs of pilgrims eager for this (for most) once in a lifetime opportunity. As I climbed the many stairs to the statue my heart was growing heavy, as all I could see what his feet and the bottom of his robe. One of my fellow pilgrims signed, "God has a reason," and I replied with full confidence, "God always has a reason."
I as far back as the pressing crowds would allow, and craned to see Jesus' face, with confidence, yet acceptance of God's will, I began to pray to Our Lady of Grace, "Oh Blessed Mother, please just give us a glimpse of His face." A few moments later, though still very misty, I was able to finally make out Christ's face. I was elated, and would have been overjoyed if this was the only miracle for this visit, but Mary is never outdone in her generosity. As we stood, some of the onlookers even clapping at blessing of this peek of this wonder, new hope arose as the wind picked up and the sun began to penetrate the clouds. Emerging before our eyes were slivers of blue sky, and the misty clouds began to move faster and faster over the statue, until the true miracle of the day. Every cloud disappeared, although not for the duration of our visit, it was long enough for dreams to be fulfilled, perfect photos to be taken, and an overjoyed awareness of how truly loved and cared we are by Our Blessed Mother. Almost as quickly as it began, with all the cheering and bustle - the energy was electric, it was hard not to bubble with excitement when we had unmistakably been given a true gift from heaven. The statue was again wrapped in fog within a half hour.
In addition, I have to share that along with the clouds revealing Christ the Redeemer, it also allowed for us to see the magnificent aerial view of Rio de Janeiro! It was spectacular - truly some of the whitest whites and bluest blues I've ever seen. Our Blessed Mother had on more gift of Grace to share before we departed, for those looking over the side at the landscape below witnessed clouds below the mountain top roll in, and the sun cast a shadow of the Christ the Redeemer on them, and at the place of Jesus' feet a rainbow. A sign always of hope and God's promise to never dessert us - and for me a reminder that the most perfect place to find that promise is at my Savior's feet.