Throughout the month of May, we will be sharing posts focused on journeying alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Share your experiences in the comments or on social media using #praywithmary.
Throughout my life I have been blessed with many good friends, but my senior year of college was when I found a true kindred spirit in my classmate Danielle. She was funny, energetic, caring, talented, and passionately pursuing God. I had never had such a good friend who was such an involved Catholic and I enjoyed every moment with her. We quickly became best friends and our love for one another was deep and solidly founded on Christ.
And then she became a nun. I mourned the loss of her like she had died. It was really very hard.
But through her loss and my new job at a Catholic student center I became much better friends with our former campus minister, Beth. Beth and Danielle had always been close but now I was hurting in a way few could understand and I was in need of a mentor. Beth opened her heart and (on several tear-filled nights) her home to me, and through phone calls, dinners, holy hours, and road trips our friendship grew into something quite extraordinary. God had blessed me with a woman who was a perfect combination of older sister and best friend.
And then she became a nun. Another loss to mourn. Despite all my joy for my friends’ beautiful vocations, I was incredibly sad.
The Fall of 2005 was a very lonely time for me. No one wanted the title “Bonnie’s Best Friend” out of fear they’d end up in a convent. Kidding! (Not kidding.) Also, God revealed to me that the next person I’d describe as my best friend would be the man I’d marry. That information gave me long term relief but meant I was still lonely in the meantime.
Then one day I got a letter from Danielle, who had a new nun name by this time. I went into the chapel of the Newman Center I worked at, sitting in the pew in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I read the letter. In it she said that we were both wrapped in Mary’s mantel. I closed my eyes, leaned back against the pew, and imagined Mary sitting in between Danielle and I, her robe wrapped around all three of us, keeping us warm.
It may seem silly, or sensational, or cheesy, or crazy, but I truly did sense Mary at that moment. It felt like she was sitting right next to me. And I felt certain that down in Nashville, Danielle was sitting in her chapel, right next to Mary, wrapped in her robes, just on the other side of me.
I felt so close to my friend in that moment. It was a precious gift, and it happened more than once. I used that imagery repeatedly and it helped me feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually close to both Danielle and Beth, often at times when I was quite lonely or scared or unsure of myself. Mother Mary gave me the gift of sitting in the presence of friends who knew me quite well but loved me nonetheless. She gave me the gift of the joyful peace of true friendship.
While Mary wrapped us in her mantle she was showing me her love, treating me to something special, helping me feel encouraged – exactly like a mother would.
Bonnie is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She, her husband, and five children live in central Illinois, and her son’s alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was submitted to the Vatican for Sheen’s beatification. Bonnie bakes a fantastic chocolate chip cookie, co-hosts The Visitation Project radio show, contributes to Blessed Is She devotionals, and blogs at A Knotted Life.