“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” St. Teresa of Calcutta
I am a big advocate of small talk; I make it a habit to talk to strangers. Small talk may make a person feel special because showing a stranger kindness can change the direction of their day.
About three years ago I was having trouble finding a reliable dry cleaning place. Through the suggestion of my daughter, I started taking my clothes to an eco-friendly place. The owner is a young, educated Middle Eastern man named John. I know this because through small talk I’ve gotten acquainted with him. We talk about a lot of things, like my missionary trips and visiting his homeland of Jordan. We never discuss religion because we both share the love of God. Last year, before I went to the Holy Land, I asked my friend if he had any special prayer intentions. He told me of his desire to have a child. He and his wife have been trying to conceive for years. I’m always prepared to jot down prayer requests, so I got out a 5X3 card and wrote out his prayer request. I tucked it into my purse with the rest of the petitions, to take with me on the trip.
For some special reason, John’s request really tugged at my heart. I started to pray for him before the trip during adoration after daily Mass. We usually receive hundreds of prayer requests, and since I am the one in charge of organizing them, I make certain that my personal friends and family end up in my pile. I remembered that the year before, I purchased some special powder from the Milk Grotto, so when I picked up my dry cleaning I handed John the small packet of powder. I gave him a brief explanation of the Milk Grotto and left. I cannot explain why, but my prayers for John and his wife were fervent.
The Milk Grotto
Though I had been to the Holy Land numerous times, I had never heard of the Milk Grotto. It was not until 2013 while traveling with Father Leonard Mary, and Bro. Leo from EWTN that I was first introduced to the Milk Grotto. It was through Bro. Leo that I first heard of the Milk Grotto. Bro. Leo was on a mission to purchase some powder for his sister, who was having trouble conceiving a child. I was overly excited to visit this holy site for the first time, so on the day we went to the Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem, we walked to the Milk Grotto. Like most Catholic churches in the Holy Land, this small chapel is in the custody of the Franciscan order. This church is located a stone’s throw from the Church of The Nativity. In the Holy Land, other than the regular church schedules, no one really knows the schedule for when the stores are open. From my past experiences sometimes the tiny Milk Grotto store is open, and sometimes, if you patiently pray and wait, the Franciscan priest will show up and open the doors to the store. The powder is sold for $5 a package. As you walk into the small office, the walls of the shop are covered with pictures of babies, hundreds of them. The Franciscans have put together large photo albums of the testimonies of miraclous births. Couples who for years had been trying to conceive a child are now sharing photos of their beautiful babies. They write letters of thanksgiving for God’s answers to their prayers.
When the Three Kings went to visit the Holy Family, the early Christians believed that the family lived in this grotto. While the Blessed Mother Mary was nursing baby Jesus some of her breast milk spilled on the ground, turning the red stone into white. The white stone is taken from the spot where Mary’ s breast milk fell. Aside from healing infertility, there are many other miracles that have been experienced through the intercession of Mary with the powder from the Milk Grotto. The powder is to be sprinkled into a liquid beverage like coffee, tea, or milk. But without a doubt it is through praying that the miracles manifest. At that same spot where it is known that Mary was nursing baby Jesus, I prayed for my friend John and his wife. After asking Mary for her intercession, I was spiritually overcome with emotions of joy. I cried. This was not the only holy site where I petitioned on their behalf, but at all the holy sites. God entrusts us to carry these burdens for our friends and family, to restore faith in their lives.
Last week I went to pick up my dry cleaning. As my credit card transaction was being processed John said, “I have great news! My wife is pregnant!” I could not believe my ears. My reply was simply, “Oh my God, I prayed so much for you guys!” I tried not to show too much emotion but I started to cry tears of great joy. John came across the counter and we hugged. “She is 17 weeks, and we are having a girl!” John added. I cried all the way home and into the house. As my husband Mike unloaded the dry cleaning he asked me, “What’s the matter with you?” I shared the story and he smiled at me, and saying, “That’s amazing!” I am still praising God for granting my friend and his wife this wonderful miracle.
We never know what a difference we make in the lives of others. The next time you are out in public, start a conversation with a stranger, share the love of Christ with others. You don’t need to beat someone over the head with a Bible to show the love of Christ. A simple smile makes the world a better place.
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people will hear today.” St. Francis of Assisi