It's a miracle I saw it
Thirty years ago we had a phenomenon here in Cork when it was suggested that a statue of the 'Virgin Mary' in a grotto near Kinsale was moving. I kid you not!
Reports had people witnessing a stone alabaster statue appearing to be in motion. Now, no one suggested that she lifted her skirts and made off for a decent boozer or anything but the chanting hoards that flocked to the place to pray ran into their thousands. It made headlines all over the world at the time. Naturally the Catholic Church itself wasn't too enthusiastic about it and the senior collars in that organization were keen to play it all down. But the breast-beating rosary-bead brigade were not being put off by that. They had a real happening on their hands.
Back then, as it happens, I ran a business servicing the marine industry through the Port of Cork and had occasion to take a Dutch sea-Captain to dinner in Kinsale. On our way home, this happy bundle of a man, asked if we could swing past the moving statue to see what all the fuss was about. The grotto was on the right hand side of the road and the field on the other side was black with people. It was night time so the whole place was lit up around the statue itself by lighting that had been rigged up.
Bold as you like, I parked beside it and no-one said anything to me. The Dutchman got out to have a closer look and I joined him. Now, you can call me what you like but to me at that moment, the damned thing appeared to be moving. I swear to God! But it was on a height above us so I couldn't be absolutely sure even with 20/20 vision at the time. Then I saw that I could make my way up to it at one side so over the railings I went and climbed up until I was close enough to reach out and touch it.
Guess what? It was still moving! The motion was gentle but easily discernable. The movement was above the waist of the statue and the head looked like it was slowly nodding so I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I reached out and touched the cold stone. It felt solid and static. I watched and touched for about ten minutes before making my way back down to my dinner companion. He was giggling happily because he thought we Irish were strange and quaint anyway. When I told him what I saw, I shot down in his estimation.
But, here's the thing, what exactly does it mean? OK, so I saw something that shouldn't move sway a bit but what is that supposed to make me think. I am not what is called a good Catholic though I do try to be a good Christian. But that alone does not enlighten me one bit as to what effect this moving statue was supposed to have on me. I just wasn't moved by the experience.
As an aside, an old nun came scampering out of the field to grab my arm before I got back into the car. "You saw it, didn't you?" the sad wrinkled face asked. I shrugged and said I did and then she hit me with the bitter punchline. "Only bloody non-believers do!"
Now I did find that particular exchange moving!