When I was a little kid, some news report that came on the tube saying that the image of the Virgin Mary had appeared in a tree stump and a crowd of thousands from far and wide had flocked to the site to witness the "miracle". On the screen, the reporters showed a clip of the purported image and I distinctly remember thinking to myself- even as a child- People travelled from all over the world to see THAT. Since I first took notice of the phenomenon of finding her face in stranger than strange places oh so long ago, I've noticed that it seems to be a recurring theme all over the world....and I ALWAYS happen to catch wind of it:
A door in Michigan
a leaky underpass in Chicago
a grilled cheese sandwich in Miami which "never bore a mold spore after being stored for 10 years" (anyone who has let bread sit out for a few days understands that mold doesn't grow on dry ass bread...)
It sold on EBAY for $28,000!
A brick in Wales
An office building in Clearwater, Florida
A half million people came to see this!
A mirror in London
That pesky little tree from my childhood memory......... OK maybe not the EXACT tree from that news report, but you get the idea!
Someone's photo in England
And finally the newest edition to the Travelling Maria Holy Moly Show, this small piece of dark chocolate from Fountain Valley, California.
Today apparently, an employee at the famous Bodega Chocolates found it under a vat while cleaning. She's an undocumented illegal alien from Guatemala and thought that by bringing this image public, it might help iron out the illegal immigrant issue in her favor. Considering the fact that we have such a "religious" president and that it's now "in" for politicians to tout their religion as a means to garner votes- it might actually work! OK not really, that was a joke- but you thought about it for a second didn't you! Honestly though, she did say that she thought it had a strange resemblance to the Virgin herself and she got VERY emotional when she saw it. Hmmmmm......
Now, I'm no Catholic so maybe the present and/or former Catholics out there can help me understand why these "sightings" are such a big deal. I've visited a mass or two and I understand that there is a lot of tradition and ritual that goes into the faith, and I can surely comprehend the severe importance of the Virgin Mother, but it seems to border on fanatacism at times. Maybe I just don't get it. Parker? Rock? Bob? hook me up with some info! It seems like I could view anything I wanted in these things. Anyone see a turtle sunning itself on a rock in the grilled cheese? Or a penguin in the overpass? Or an F-16 jet fighter in the tree? Or a crab in the church window? No? Look harder you lazy bums!!!! Out of respect for those people of the Catholic faith, I won't EVEN say what that damn little, brown, lumpy thing resembles! So, let's think about this for a second:
a. Who alive today- or at any point in the last two thousand years for that matter- knows what the real Mary looked like? Chances are she didn't look anything like a greasy sandwich or a pollution filled crack on an overpass, much less the pale, blue eyed, blonde woman we're accustomed to. If you've ever been to the Middle East or New York City, you'd realize that she probably looked a lot more like Selma Hayek than Cameron Diaz.
b. As I understand it, if there is a claim of an apparition, the Catholic church sends out an official to determine whether it's valid or not. If he (I said 'he' because women still aren't on equal footing with the men in Catholicism...or most religions for that matter) looks at it and determines that it's an apparition, then there's great celebration within the faith that the Holy Mother has shown herself again. If he was in a bad mood, had a little too much holy wine that day, or hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before, he might not see what everyone else sees and disappoint a whole lotta people. My question is what if she really DID show up and the apparition priest was pissed off because he didn't get the promotion he wanted. He just might be vindictive enough to keep it to himself!
c. Why is that anytime there's a femalesque figure that appears in an inanimate object, it's an apparition of the Virgin Mary? Sure these images may look feminine in a way, but why does EVERY single one have to be Mary? C'mon man, spread it out a little! When are Halle Berry, Vanessa del Rio and Michael Jackson gonna get some love?
d. Ask yourself, who's nuttier- the people who hear about the apparition, travel across the country to somehow see the images of the Holy Momma for themselves, light candles and pray, or the folks who write 20 page papers to deny that the image is there and/or vandalize the sites that people flock to. I think it's a little loony myself but who am I to denounce what someone sees? Is it THAT serious that you have to go piss on someone's "miracle"?
Left: The Chicago underpass vandalized by some dude with black shoe polish
Right: The same underpass after being painted over by a Chicago road crewI guess it IS that serious....
In the midst of writing this post, I've learned a few valuable lessons:
1. People will see what they want to see, regardless of whether everyone else sees it or not.
2. People will see what they want to see, even if they don't think they see it.
3. People will say they see what others want to see, and make a whole bunch of money! (ain't that a bitch!)
Today I took Naimah with me to the market to picked up a few things, and among them, a box of animal crackers. Don't ask me WHY animal crackers- it may be a post partum fatherhood thing, who knows? As I munched through this box, I happened to pull out a fairly large cookie and as I took a closer look, I thought I happened to see something special. It's not my opinion that matters however so tell me- what do YOU see?