Thursday, December 12, 2013
Our Lady of Guadalupe, My Family, and the '94 Northridge Earthquake
If you've been reader of this blog from the beginning, you may remember me mentioning this before but I am going to write a longer, more detailed version of this story. It's the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe so I think it's the appropriate day to do so.
My love of Our Lady started from a young age. I don't exactly remember how old I was but my parents saw the connection I had to her. I loved her and apparently I understood that she loved me before I even reached the age of reason. After a particularly curious event (which shall have to remain unknown to my readers for now; sorry), my parents decided to hang a picture of her in my room. I felt happy and at peace having her image in my room... and little did I know that the picture (and, really, Our Lady) would get me through the most terrifying event of my childhood.
I was 8 years old when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake occurred. I still remember every detail of it, even though it happened 20 years ago (next month). I remember my dad picking me up from the bed as the entire apartment shook violently. I remember being terrified as I'd never lived (and haven't since) such a powerful earthquake before. My parents and I were huddled in the middle of the apartment, under the door frames of the two bedrooms, holding onto the walls for support (and both holding onto me) because we were being thrown around with the shaking. It became pitch black before the worst of the shaking ended... but, before all the lights went out, I remember that both Our Lady and St. Jude brought comfort to us.
Almost everything was thrown off the walls and broken... except the huge framed picture of Our Lady in my room (where it still hangs to this day). Whilst everything around the room was on the floor (including other hanged photos), her picture stayed where it was, as if nothing had happened. (side note: the St. Jude statues in my room fell, but didn't break, until all three of us were safely under the door frames... and they should've been the first to fall as they are the most vulnerable to falling and breaking where they were placed.)
I was taking classes for my First Communion when this happened. My classroom at the parish was on the second floor and the entire floor (floor; not walls) collapsed. We ended up finishing up our classes in a neighboring parish and we actually did our First Communion in a huge tent that was set up in the parking lot since the parish was unsafe to use. (Earthquake happened in January and I did my First Communion that May). Despite the setback, we were still able to celebrate the occasion. Nothing -- not even a natural disaster -- would stop us from receiving such a wonderful sacrament.
I look back at what happened and how the picture stayed where it was and think about how it seems to have been a precursor to what was to come. I have had so many things jostle me around but my faith stays intact. Even though I was away from the Church from my teens through the age of 21 (and I actually reverted less than a month after my 21st birthday), I still managed to come back. My faith has gotten me through the hardest "shake up" of my life -- losing my father 4 years ago -- and still, I feel like Our Lady has stood beside me, holding my hand through it all.
It's funny how I've had such a "stormy" relationship with Our Lady for years. From my teens through about a year or so ago, I didn't feel particularly close to her because I didn't feel worthy enough to call her my Mother. I felt like I had failed her in so many ways -- especially when she interceded for me and I couldn't thank her in ways I wanted (and promised) to. I used to think to myself "how can she love me when I haven't been a good daughter?" It took me a long time to realize that she loves me despite how many times I may fail; and an even longer time to shake that feeling of not being worthy. I still don't think I am (and that could still be works of the Enemy as he hates Our Lady since she represents everything that is good and everything that he doesn't want for mankind) but knowing that she's with me (and intercedes for me) when I need her has been a great comfort in recent years.
So, that's my story. Sorry for the length but this was a post that was overdue!
Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful feast day. For those of you who were lucky enough to attend a Mass, I hope your hearts were filled with as much love and joy as humanly possible. :)
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D