Terra Incognita

I took my mother last week for her monthly checkup at the doctor’s. I drove her to the hospital and walked with her to the elevators and to the oncology unit. For the first time, she walked the whole way from the entrance to the office with her cane. Praise God!

After some blood tests, she and I got to meet with the nurse practitioner who is handling most of my mother’s care with the doctor. She asked some questions about my mother’s symptoms. Still amazed, she remarked again about my mother’s “miraculous” recovery. She seemed so happy and upbeat.

At one point, my mother asked her a question: “Am I progressing along as I should be? How much activity should I be doing around the house?” I smiled and laughed to myself – I’m thinking, my mother doesn’t quite get it yet. But I let the NP fill her in.

“Well, we don’t have any more idea than you do. We don’t have any data for anyone in your situation. We’ve never had any patient drop as low as you have and recover as well as you have.”

Then she paused and said to my mother: “You are in terra incognita.”

“Did you hear what she said?” my mother asked me with a big smile of amazement, with tears and a hug after the NP stepped out for a minute. “She used the word ‘miraculous’. Wooow.”

When the Lord called the apostles, they left everything. Not just some things, but everything, their families and friends, their work and daily rhythm of life, all that their life was founded on. And they did it suddenly, not over the course of time. They couldn’t listen anymore to the experts, to the scribes, to the educated and wise, to the influential and popular opinions. They listened only to Him. What did they enter?

Terra incognita. “For we walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7)

Let me ask you: How did they walk in terra incognita? How were they able to let go? How did they make it without terror and anxiety?

Because they were with the Lord. And they got to witness the greatest things that have ever happened: indescribable conversions of life, healings, people raised from the dead.

When you decide to follow the Lord, you enter into terra incognita – but go, don’t be afraid. You’ll get used to two words: “Miraculous.” “Wow.”

And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him: And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus says to them: Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:23-27)

4 thoughts on “Terra Incognita

  1. Your mom has such a sweet, childlike response to all of this. I keep thinking of all those hours, day and night, that she lay in bed in front of the Divine Mercy image, just she and Jesus gazing at each other. It reminds me of the story of St. John Vianney’s parishioner who just sat gazing at the Blessed Sacrament for hours – “I look at Him and He looks at me”…


  2. “I look at Him and He looks at me.” That’s about all of Christianity, isn’t it! It reminds me of something …

    Roy Shoeman – who has written a few books published at Ignatius Press – had a profound conversion experience with Our Lady. He met her in a dream, when he knew really nothing about her or Christianity, exactly a year after he had a profound encounter with the Lord on a beach that left him puzzled as to who He is. In the dream, he knew interiorly that she was Mary. He described her as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

    She offered to answer any questions he had. He asked her what her favorite title was. She replied “Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.”

    He asked her who the Holy Spirit is. She paused, gazed upward gently, and said, “He’s *His* gaze.”

    He asked her what her favorite prayer is. She replied that she loves all prayers to her. Then (as he says, he being Jewish, and speaking to a Jewish mother) he pressed her – there must be a favorite. She replied in an unknown language. He sought it out afterwards and determined that it was the Miraculous Medal prayer in Portuguese.

    Finally, He thanked her for everything, and she replied, “Oh, no, you don’t understand. I am nothing.” Then, turning her gaze upward, she said, “*He* is everything.”

    So there is much grace in gazing at the Divine Mercy image!

    And the image has come back for now. It stayed for exactly 40 days until the framer who re-did it (it had lumps from humidity) came by to take it back and repair it. She said that the woman who was helping her work on the image was pregnant, and later that day she suddenly and unexpectedly delivered her child, a month premature. The child is OK – in fact, the child I believe is more than OK!


  3. Isn’t it wonderful, Jerome? A former pastor of mine introduced us to Roy Shoeman’s “Salvation is from the Jews” a few years ago. It’s just so beautiful, all the ways in which Mary works, yet how she always turns us towards the Trinity. It is lovely to hear Mary’s favourites, and from a person who knew nothing of it and so could not have been influenced in any way. Good news about the baby!


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