I vomited. A green, gray, brown, yellow, fleshy, uncolored substance spewed forth from my mouth. The smell was vile. The smell of me was vile. Worse than anything I’ve ever smelled. Pungent. Intense. Gross. Indescribable. Words to describe my smell but also how I looked.
I shook uncontrollably. Tremors overtook my body. They were no small tremblings of little fears. This was a massive shaking of me from head to toe. I sweated profusely. The vomit from my mouth was foamy and not vomit at all. The smell radiated from my vomit but also from every pore in my being.
I was weak, unable to stand or even to sit. I was sick. Addicted. Suffering withdrawal.
I choked. I could not speak. Nothing but subhuman groans of suffering and remorse emerged when I tried.
My eyes watered profusely. Not really crying tears of remorse or sadness, but in a need to pour everything out of me. To take off blinders and allow myself to see as I was. It was vision correction surgery without anesthesia performed through tears and leaving bloodshot burning eyes.
I knew more clearly than I’d ever known how awful a person I was. It was different though. I was not beating myself up as I had on earth. I did not hate myself. I just did not want to be me as I had made me to be. I was suffering terribly, but I knew I would some day be free and there was comfort in that.
I just wanted to be clean.
I cannot capture how I bad I felt, looked, smelled, and was. My writer’s heart longs for words not invented by human kind to explain to you what I saw in myself that day. Perhaps this is more of what can only be told through the groanings of the Holy Spirit with the accompaniment of choirs of mourning Angels.
I violently and weakly vomited out sin. All this for just one sin I’d committed. It was a sin I’d held on to and treasured for decades. A sin most today would not consider sin. A sin I justified, excused, and ignored. A sin few, if any knew, about. A sin I judged as harmless.
I wanted out of there. I wanted this over. I wanted to breathe freely.
My suffering for this one sin was unspeakably, immeasurably intense.
In some equally indescribable way, I knew I deserved this. I knew what was happening to me was Justice. I knew this vomiting was purging me of impurity. As I lay there draped across Her lap, I knew this with surety.
I was being punished by a Just God for something I’d done on earth. I also knew it wasn’t exactly a punishment the way I’d always thought of punishment. It was an act of the Lord’s Tough Love for me.
In Truth I saw as I lay there how my sin had come between me and so many people, loved ones and others. I saw how my sin had caused me to use people and be used. I saw the effects of my disobedience. I saw how my freedom had enslaved me and those I claimed to love. I knew the Truth of the effects of my harmless, unknown sin and how it had reached and scarred people I’d never met.
My sin had come between me and the Lord. It had caused a wedge in our relationship that I could not see or understand. It seemed small. It hurt no one. Compared to others and the sins I’ve seen, mine was insignificant. That’s what I had thought for decades.
And that’s why I lay there weak, vile and vomiting.
My suffering was less of the Lord’s punishment for my sin than it was of His Mercy.
I finally saw in myself my desire to continue my sin.
No, “desire” is too weak a word. I saw in myself my addiction to my sin. I wanted to continue sinning because of the small, temporary high it gave me. I could not see the Glory God could give me if I turned away from myself and toward Him.
My sin, although appearing to hurt no one, hurt me. It had become a separator between God’s Love and my heart.
God did not want that for me.
And so I vomited. And sweat. And shook, And foamed. And stunk.
During this time, I was vaguely aware of other suffering souls, but I did not see them. I don’t know that I heard them. I was too caught up in my own addiction and withdrawal to notice or care for those around me. Something my earthly arrogance and my belief in myself as a caring person would find hard to believe.
In Purgatory, I noticed no one else’s suffering. I was aware others were there too, but I did not see them or know of them.
I was acutely aware of only my own painful suffering and sin.
And yet, I was not alone.
I don’t know how I would have made it without Her, My Mary.
I was took weak to stand. I was a puddle of weakness. As if my body was nothing more than a blackened, rotten, limp banana. I don’t know how long I was there, but I was never on the floor.
Instead, I was draped across My Mother’s lap, My Mary’s lap.
I later saw a statue of Mary holding Jesus after He was taken from the Cross and gasped.
My Blessed Mother had held me in much the same way.
There were just two differences.
First, where Jesus was turned toward her, I was turned away. My Mary held me close. She cradled me in her gentle arms. But she held me draped across her lap face down so that my vomit could be released. She did not want it choked back in, swallowed back down, or made part of me again.
Second, at the Cross, in every depiction I’ve ever seen, the Blessed Mother’s face was filled with understandable anguish. When she held me, her face was serene. There was a Peace and Grace about her as she sang songs I do not know and spoke gently to me of words I could not hear. Words that could not penetrate my addiction induced fog. She stroked my hair and bent over me protectively, cradling me close to her heart.
Never once did she recoil from the smell I produced or the flecks of vomit that clung to my sweat drenched hair and greasy face.
I remember wondering where the vomit went. As soon as I spewed it out, it clung to me or was gone. It did not collect on the floors in cesspools of grossness. As far as I know, it simply disappeared. Gone. Erased. Like it never even happened.
I don’t know how long I lay there like that or who attended to the other souls or how Mary found time to sit with me, just me who had always felt so worthless, so nothing, so me, but she did.
She was in no hurry. Maybe that’s what knowing you have an eternity gifts to a person. She sat there patiently giving me her peace and love.
And then it happened.
I was aware of a Man walking toward me. He was dressed all in white. I tried to lift my face. I wanted to see Him. My heart longed to see Him, to be near Him, to look upon His face and to Love Him and have Him Love me.
And yet, I recoiled at the same time.
I was covered in vomit. I smelled bad. I was unclean. I was still holding onto my sin.
I was unfit to tie His sandles, unfit to be invited to join with Him in His wedding feast.
I needed to let go. I wanted to let go. I had to let go.
As He approached me, I felt no shame. Only a deep sorrow for my sin and a deep longing to be joined with Him.
I didn’t look around much, but I knew there was a pristine cleanliness to the place. The darkness had only been inside of me and the others suffering souls there.
As He approached, I finished my vomiting. I could see the brightness more clearly, and it was beautiful, clean, pure. Not at all “sterile” but brilliant.
I hadn’t noticed the brilliance before His approach. I have the feeling it was always there, but I was so caught up in myself I could not see it.
The Man approached me, and I knew without a doubt it was my Savior. I have a feeling I saw His face, but I do not remember it now. It seems incredible to me that I could so quickly forget what the face of God looks like, but as soon as I was gone from this place, my memory of His face disappeared.
I do remember the white flowing robes. White no Tide commercial could produce. I remember feeling His smile. FEELING His smile deep in my heart, penetrating, warming, burning gloriously my very soul as He walked toward me.
He smiled at His Mother and she lifted her head from attending to me to smile at Him and welcome Him toward us.
I saw an all-Loving connection between them that made my heart swell.
He squatted close to me and put out His hand to touch me, but His Mother gently stopped Him.
“She’s not ready,” she said
Jesus’ hand stilled inches from me.
I shrank back not wanting His perfect hand to touch me while also longing deeply for Him.
I did not recoil in negativity but in a sudden burst of understanding that THIS is what I wanted! I didn’t want my sin anymore. I saw how my sin had, while “hurting no one,” robbed me of time and energy that could have been spent drawing closer to God, to growing my faith, to doing His work on earth, and to helping other suffering souls.
I recoiled because My Mary who knows me so well, was right! I was not ready.
But I wanted to be.
Jesus’ hand hovered over my filthy form.
My Mary had spoken the words quietly, lovingly, still stroking my hair and cradling me close. She was a mother, My Mother caring for me, her sick child. She smiled gently down on me and then looked back at Her Son.
“But she will make it.”
Jesus rose to His full height again. He never touched me, but I felt His radiant smile burn my heart. My heart burst with the desire to make Jesus happy in a most unselfish way. I did not want to make Him happy for me, but with a purity of heart that comes only from wanting to give entirely of oneself to the Lord. A purity I am not capable of having on my own.
And then it was over.
I remember nothing else.
I’d planned to make this my final piece on Marian Consecration, but as I wrote more, I realized I did not want to muddy my vision of Purgatory with my interpretations and thoughts and explanations of how my life has changed since. That will come tomorrow and will in fact be my final post in this series on Marian Consecration.
Thank you for understanding.