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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Reflections on Mary’s Pond – Gratitude

May 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Mary

In the midst of the eighteen year storm of my childhood, there were brief reprieves. Some of these came when my father would break away from his incredibly busy work schedule and take us fishing. Mostly alone in the mountains following some meandering brook in the hopes of finding a larger-than-life fish in a small stream was safe, and it caused the tumult at home to fade, at least for a while.

It was during these times that I learned to love the relative safety of aloneness, along with the mystery and beauty of clear cool water. The melody of a babbling stream as it forms from the base of a snow bank, cuts through meadows, pushes up flowers, is breathtaking – particularly when it links to a fish-filled lake where few cast shadows at that time of year.

Running water was and still is mesmerizing and life-giving to me. When Jesus says “I am the water of life” I have some intuitive sense of what he means.

So, when I knew that we were moving to Birmingham I prayed. It was a childish prayer. I asked Mary if she would intercede on our behalf that we could find a home with a stream. I knew we couldn't afford a house on that kind of property, but I prayed anyway. As it turns out, we weren't able to find a home in our price range with a stream (not even close). I forgot the prayer as the busyness of moving overwhelmed every thought and ounce of energy.

We moved in to our new home, then the storm came. This was a rain storm mind you – Alabama style. That means lots of water in a short period of time. Our backyard was flooded. The rain eventually stopped and I expected everything to dry up, but the water kept coming.

JosefMoroderLusenbergVirginOnce it slowed a bit I squished around in the grass to try to find the source. I suspected it was runoff from our neighbors' yards as they all live above us on a hill. To my surprise I discovered that the lawn was squishing in a more and more narrow pattern up the mild slope. Then it seemed to come to a single point. Now on my hands and knees, I pushed a finger into the grass. Water. A cool clear spring bubbled above the surface of the lawn and began to flow freely. I suspected it would stop eventually.

A year has passed and it is still flowing. But now the spring is at the bottom of a newly hand-excavated pond. Once the water is under control, I plan to build a grotto in honor of Mary and in appreciation for her gift of employment in Birmingham, for water, and for saying “yes” to the Water of Life.

How has Mary, in her life, and her intercession, blessed you?

Art: Lusenberg-Virgin, Josef Moroder Lusenberg (1846-1939), undated, Wolfgang Moroder, March 2012, CCA-SA, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Becky Ward

    OH MY GOSH!!  What a beautiful story. There were springs all over the farm I grew up on, so I know just what you mean.

    Our Lady’s example never fails to give me the strength, hope, and courage to continue on the journey.

  • Mother-Earth1213

    Mary is the model for all women. She is my role model as she was an ordinary girl who had that something special & unique. She was chosen from all the young girls of her generation to be the mother of ‘Jesus’!

  • cajunbam

    Amazing story!

  • Helen Lawson

    De Maria nunquam satis( hope the latin ir right? anyway the point is Of Mama you can never say enough. What Do I have that I have not received from her!

  • Dawn

    As Helen said, “What I have NOT received from The Blessed Mother?!” She gave us Jesus. Jesus is everything! Thus, Mother gave and continues to give me everything. I love you and thank you Kraljica Mira (Queen of Peace; Croatian). Totus Tuus! May this page explode with testimonies from Mother’s children :), about the great/abundant gifts She has given.

  • Lyonsjoan

    Mary’s pond experience brought to mind my blessings received in the surprising joy of realized dreams and the grace of answered prayers in a most unexpected way. Thanks you for sharing Mary’s Pond with us.

  • Magnoliaj1962

    I am on my 31st day of 33 days of total consecration to Jesus through Mary. Who better can point me toward Jesus than His loving and devoted Mother. I look forward to an increased communication with Mary and a connection that will flow through me to others.

  • Sandy

    What a beautiful story about how Our Lady intercedes for us so that our prayers are answered.  There have been so many blessings in my life.  One of the most special is that my husband and I have been able to go to Medjugorje together three times in the past seven years, where Our Lady has been appearing daily to the visionaries since June 24, 1989.  My husband and I are a part of a prayer group at our Church that meets on Monday evenings that began when a group of pilgrims from our parish returned from Medjugorje in 1989.  We have a holy hour that begins with a song to Mary, consecration of our hearts to Jesus’ Sacred Heart and Mary’s Immaculate Heart, prayers for life, and for our priests, The Blessed Sacrament is exposed throughout the holy hour and we pray three Rosaries and end with a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  As the Blessed Sacrament is reposed, we sing Holy God We Praise Thy Name.  The graces received from making this holy hour are too many to mention.  Our Lady calls us to complete conversion through prayer, frequenting the sacraments, penance fasting, holiness, and peace.  

  • Mary

    Our Lady hears the simple prayer of those who are childlike and humble.  As a little girl of five, I recall that my grandfather was in the hospital after suffering a stroke.  I overheard my parents conversation that he was not expected to live through the night.  My mother  left to be by my grandfather’s side.  I felt compelled, to kneel before the statue of Our Lady (given to me as a baptism gift from my godparents) and beg her to spare his life.  I knelt down before her, grabbed my rosary, and tried to pray as best as I could remember. I just cried and begged and prayed.  When I awoke in the morning, to my relief, I heard that my grandfather  had made it through the night and was stable.  He remained on this earth another five years to bless my life.  I knew from that time on, that my Mother was a powerful intercessor that I could turn to in time of need.  My childlike prayers were purified by her great love for me.

  • LizEst

    Beautiful story! It reminds me of Our Lady of Lourdes. I picture Bernadette digging in the ground according to her instructions and the water coming up.

    My mother went to the Lord this year…and Mary has filled her place!

  • Xwvwvx

    How beautiful! May this gift, this grace, continue to well up in you! Forever inspiring!
    Ever overflowing!

  • Before making a Consecration to Jesus through Mary, I didn’t think of Mary that much, even though I had been raised Catholic. Since the consecration I have prayed the rosary nearly every day and have gotten comfort from the prayer. One night, several months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, terrified. I started thinking of all that is happening in our country and our world. I turned to Mary’s picture on the wall and quietly called out to her.” Oh Mary, what can I do?” Softly, without spoken words, was the thought “Trust” and then the thought “Love”. I realized as I pondered those words that Mary had lived her life that way – trusting in God and loving Him. I believe that she was answering my prayer by telling me to follow her example. Do I still get upset sometimes about what I see happening in our country? Yes, but then I think back on the words which came to me in the dark and try to follow Mary’s example.

  • Sojrnr

    Wow, shades f Lourdes. Shows us that our Mother never fails to answer our prayers.

  • Mnealon1

    It was during a pilgrimage to Medijugorje about 6 years ago, when I had reached the bottom of my life that Our Lady turned me to face Her Son Jesus. To take a really good at my past life, my hurting family,and at myself, and the desperate hurt to Jesus.  When I came home I began the painful and slow way back to Her Son. Our Lady called me which was a special grace and gave me further graces through Her Son to accept what was being offered to me. I grabbed Her love with both hands and although ever day will be a struggle until I die, I know I have my REAL Mother by the hand and She will keep me safe for her Son Jesus.

  • Océano

    I also always loved water and have had some very meaningful dreams with water. Even when I have been told not to pay attention to dreams I still think some of them are telling me something. I am not so sure if this against my beloved Catholic Church.
    I LOVE WATER AT EVERY DEPTH…Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

    • Becky Ward

      I am just reading St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mt. Carmel, where he discusses things like this. The danger is in becoming attached to the dreams instead of God who sends them. The dream may be a glimpse into the graces He is bestowing on your soul at the time, but because God has a spiritual meaning for sending them, and we usually can’t understand this at the time, we can easily become distracted and confused if we place any importance in them.

      My favorite example of this is of St. Joan of Arc – God told her He would deliver her from her enemies. I doubt if she ever imagined that it would be through being burned at the stake.

      • Océano

        Thank you so much Becky131. This is most probably what my spiritual director meant.

  • Lucy

    I-remember-just-before-I-conceived-my-daughter-doctor-was-unsure-if-I-ever-would-but-I-would-attend-Mass-and-lookupon-a-figure-of-Mary-holding-baby-Jesus-and-think-of-the-immense-love-she-felt-toward-him-and-I-wondered-if-I-would-be-so-blessed.I-know-she-had-a-hand-in-helping-me-have-my-baby!I-always-thank-her-for-interceeding-for-me!

  • Alexandra Campbell

    When I first came back to the Church, out of Hinduism and 10 years as a Protestant, I was a bit terrified of giving too much honor to Mary. I had been involved in a kind of female goddess (guru) worship and I just felt I needed to stay as far away from Mary as possible lest I be tempted to honor her too much, as us Prots felt Catholics did.

    Well, in order to receive the sacraments, my husband had to get an annulment so that our marriage could be convalidated. I had to wait 2 years to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. The beginning of the process started in May of 2006, Mary’s month. On Mother’s Day in my parish, all the mother’s in the congregation were given lovely flowers at the end of Mass.

    I had been struggling in my relationship with Mary as I noted, and I just stayed as far away from her as possible in my prayer life, etc. But suddenly I was seized with the urge to honor her as my Savior’s Mother, as my Mother, on this Mother’s Day, so I very reluctantly went up to her statue in the front of the church. I reluctantly and almost begrudgingly stretched out my arm holding the flower towards her, with my head literally turned the other way as I said to her inwardly, “OK, Mary, I am going to try to let you into my life. I love you! Help me to know you.” I placed the carnation in the vase at her feet, sent up a quick Hail Mary, and got out of there!

    Within one minute, after greeting folks after Mass, my priest came up to me excitedly saying, “Guess what! Someone, this minute, has just donated the entire $500 fee for your husband’s annulment!”

    As a misunderstanding about this fee 10 years earlier (at only $400 mind you) had been the main reason my husband had refused to enter the church at that time, imagine my absolute AMAZEMENT at the timing of this gift. I felt that the instant I accepted Mary, she showed her power to me and blessed us!

    Suffice it to say, I have not been afraid of offering Mary too much doulia since that day!

  • Sonia

    Oh how I love this story!  It reminds me of my own love for waterways, and the creatures that inhabit them.  I could lose track of time searching shallow streams for tadpoles, frogs and salamanders. “…saying yes to the Water of Life.” Wow.  Thank you, Lord!  Thank you, Holy Virgin!  

  • Buckfam_09

    I started my conversion to be a Catholic in 2001.My 2nd Husband was Catholic and I wanted us as a family to go to church together, not us go separate churches.I really felt in my Heart I have made the right decision.My children( A Son and a Daughter) and My Husband and I received the Eucharist together on Easter of 2004 with the addition to remarrying in the church.I was so happy and for me everything was perfect.On November 20,2004 My 16 yr old Boy was killed(another boy shot him by accident). My whole world came crashing down.That feeling of dread,fear,sick feeling comes over me as I still think back to that day.I prayed to Mary to help me.I remember saying to my family, Now I know how Mary feels.Loosing her only Son.I have never been shaking to my core like that day.I continue to rely on my Catholic Family to help me thru it.I practice my Faith every day of church and all the Holy Days.I know I could not go on without the support.By the next year in the Fall sometime, I was home and I have gotten up late because I did not feel good and it was 10 am when I finally merge from the bed.I enter the kitchen and made my pot of coffee as I do every morning.After it was made I made me a cup and curl up on the couch to watch the news.I turn it on at and watch it for about 15 minutes or so and one of the news I heard was about a boy in North Carolina was Lost in the woods while he was on a camping trip with his Boy Scout Troop.The weather was very cool and they spoke how the weather will be dipping down very cold that night.I felt the urge to pray for him to be found.I knelt down in front of the crucifix but I felt the need to get back up to get my holy water to bless myself before I started to pray.I began my prayer by talking and praying to our Mother Mary.I ask her to ask Jesus to save this child because I could not save my boy but save this child who’s parents are so worried about him.I continue to pray and during this time I could see the boy in the Mountains.He was kneeling beside the Mountain and I walk to him and ask him if he was ok and he said he was find.He wipe his knees off and said he was ok.I took him by his hand and walk him out more to a opening and I remember looking up and around and seeing a road and I told him that They will find in a minute, to stay there and everything will be fine.I continue to pray and thank Mother for listening to my prayer.I got up and went an warm up my coffee and turn on the TV back to the News(at 10:56 and at that instance a chill run down my back and I knew they found him.I was so excited and I waited with excitement to hear the news.11:10 am They Anchor told the news of his rescue.They found him at 10:56 and he was a the bottom of the Mountain near a trail.Right where I saw him.How wonderful Mary answer my Prayer.I still feel the Humble experience of choosing me to pray for this Loss Child.Thank You Mother Mary.Thanks Be to God.

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