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First Miracles

A sister remembers an amazing leap and the Virgin Mary.

A crown of flowers against the sky.

Do you remember the very first miracle you ever experienced?

For author Margaret Terry, it happened when she was 13 years old at a church ceremony celebrating the Virgin Mary. Her sister Barbie was about to place a crown of flowers on a statue of Mary when something, well, unusual happened–a moment Margaret couldn’t forget even if she tried.

Here’s her story…

I was 13 years old when I witnessed my first miracle. Perched in the front row of the choir loft high above the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church, my eyes were fixed on Sister Ignatius in front of me.

Sister waved her baton as though she were directing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir instead of 20 high school girls. I ducked when the heavy sleeve of her black habit almost smacked me in the face when she signaled the alto section.

The church was filled to capacity. Everyone had come to celebrate the May Crowning, the annual ceremony that honored the Blessed Virgin and planted hearts with the promise of spring. From my seat high above the crowded pews, I felt the coolness of the spring air perfumed with the scent of lilacs.

A flower wreath against the sky.I watched every head turn their attention to my sister Barbie, who had been selected to place the crown on the statue of Mary. She looked reticent as a child bride as she inched her way down the aisle in a flowy white dress that trailed behind her. The floral crown she cupped in her hands quivered with each tiny step she took toward the altar.

“Bring f lowers of the fairest, bring f lowers of the rarest,” the choir sang as Barbie approached the statue of Mary standing tall in the center of the altar. She hesitated when she reached the wobbly wooden steps that had been placed at Mary’s feet.

The choir reached the refrain: “O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today, queen of the angels, queen of the May …

Barbie climbed the three steps, reached up with her hands clasping either side of the crown, and tried to place it on Mary’s head. She was about four inches short of reaching Mary.

She tried again. Reaching, reaching high up on her tippy toes, but the floral crown only grazed Mary’s lips. I stopped singing and held my breath. Sister Ignatius looked like a mouse had run up her habit. She mouthed, Keep singing.

“O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today.”

Barbie tried again but still wasn’t close to reaching Mary’s head. I searched for my father in the crowd and prayed he’d jump up to help her. I prayed he would stand on that step with her and lift her high enough to crown Mary.

I squeezed my eyes shut and kept praying while the choir sang the refrain over and over. “O Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today . . .” A few of the girls emphasized toda-a-a-y.

When I opened my eyes, Barbie had backed down a step and stood there just staring at the crown in her hands for what felt like an hour. I was sure she could feel hundreds of eyes on her back.

That’s when the miracle happened.

Barbie raised her chin, looked at Mary, and said something to her before she walked up to the top step again. She kissed the floral crown, and the church gasped when she threw her arms high like she was jumping up to grab onto a tree branch.

Everyone’s eyes were still fixed on her as she pirouetted and descended those rickety steps. When she slid into the front pew and sat down, the whole church gasped again. The tiny floral crown laced with lilacs and baby’s breath glowed bright as a halo on top of Mary’s head.

At the reception after the service, kids surrounded Barbie, throwing questions at her like reporters after a disaster. How did the crown get on Mary’s head? Did you really jump? How did you reach so high up?

Barbie had no answers. “Did you know Mary has blue eyes?” was all she said.

But I knew Barbie didn’t jump like everyone thought. She was lifted. From my perch high in the choir loft, I could clearly see the six inches of air between her feet and the top step that lingered like a spirit and held her up until she placed the floral crown on Mary’s head.

This miracle was excerpted from Margaret’s book Dear Deb: A Woman With Cancer, A Friend With Secrets, And The Letters That Became Their Miracle published by Thomas Nelson. You can check it out here.

Plus, don’t forget to share your own “first miracle” story below!

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