A Lesson in Listening
by Boudreau


If I label my first trip to Medjugorje Conversion then the second I would call Affirmation. Was what I had experienced on my first trip real or did I just get caught up in all the hype.

It was August of 1989 when a group of us left for Bosnia Herzegovina. We no sooner arrived in the village of Medjugorje and entered our hotel when our local guide told us that when the Virgin appeared that day to the visionaries, she asked that all the pilgrims in the village  make a sacrifice the next day for her special intention.

          Those words no sooner struck my ears when the thought came to mind to put away my camera for the day. For me this would be a sacrifice. Photography had been a hobby of mine beginning in high school.

          The next morning during breakfast, our guide summed up our activities for the day. Since we would not be returning to the hotel until late afternoon we were advised to bring along whatever we felt we needed for the day. In my room, I packed my knapsack as suggested and included my Nikon camera.
          Our first stop was apparition hill. It was a gorgeous summer day and the view from the hillside was awe-inspiring. As I was sitting there by the place where the Mother of God first appeared and reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation, a small herd of goats decided to join us. Getting caught up in the moment, I pulled out my 35mm and shot away. I got about three clicks when my camera jammed. I couldn’t believe it. It had never done that before. Then I remembered the promise I made the previous evening. My heart sank to my feet. I felt I had failed our Mother.

          The group moved from the apparition site to a small chapel in the cemetery behind St James church. At that time the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the benefit of pilgrims to worship.

          I got on my knees and poured my heart out to Jesus. Then something happened. A thought I can only describe as not mine echoed inside me. When someone speaks to you, your thoughts follow their words as the sounds of their voice strike your ears. If you were to remove the sounds of the voice but not the thought that it produced then you get an idea of my experience.

          And the voiceless word said to me, “Paul, you didn’t do anything wrong. But know, when you hear this way, it is Me who is speaking.”

          I immediately felt a peace wash over me. It lifted me up so as I felt I was floating in air.

          It was time to meet the bus that would be taking us to see Fr Jozo. I followed my group to the front of St James.  As I was sitting there on the wall, again a voiceless thought came to my mind.
”Paul, take up your camera.”  Well I’ve been there before and I wasn’t about to take it out again. But the voice again stirred in me. ”Paul, take up your camera.” 

          Was I imagining this? Was I again getting caught up in the hype?

I turned to my knapsack, opened the zipper and went for the camera. As I pulled it out, I heard a “CLICK”. The shutter had un-jammed.

          With a huge smile, I returned the camera to my knapsack and retired it for the day


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