To remember the message of Garabandal, we sometimes need to forget the events of Garabandal.
Permanency is not a state of the human condition: People come and go. Memories fade. Words get twisted. What we once were so sure of over time may become confused and murky and, in the end, a different thing that what it was before.
It is certainly that as we move along in our lives, some things stay and others depart, by they people, places, things, or memories. Some changes occur consciously, whether we will it or no. Friends move away, a job requires a relocation, a growing family needs a larger house. These are things we or others consciously make.
There are other changes, however, of an infinitely more subtle texture, and often more important. These are the ones we cannot anticipate, which may seem to us absurd in the here and now. It is only after we have made the long passage from certainty to probability to possibility and on to uncertainty or even disbelief that we may suddenly realize we have come full circle from what we once cherished as indubitable truths.
Consider the young idealist, a Marxist in his college days, now a conservative senator in his older days. Or the brazen teenage daughter turned conservative housewife a few tears later. Or the well intentioned promoter of the faith who has become an embittered doubter. These are the gradual changes, the ones that take us by surprise when one day we stand before the mirror and wonder "Is this really me?"
What does this have to do with Garabandal? A great deal, actually.
Since the marvelous events in that tiny village, now more than forty years past, there has been a constant struggle on the part of those who believe to separate the events from the message. As has been said many times before, we endeavour to promote not Garabandal itself, but its true meaning and its universal applicability.
But this is a hard roe to h oe, as the farmers would say. People change, and people want to believe what they think should be the case, whether it conforms to what happened or not. This is particularly true when we recall images from the past.
When looked at retrospectively, who can deny the attraction, the sheer fascination, of the events of Garabandal? Are they not in and of themselves matters for study and reflection? Yes, to some extent, as aides to a deeper understanding of the message of Garabandal.
But study and reflection of the past does not equal speculation and preoccupation with the future, A relentless focus on the undefined yet to come, especially as regards the warning, the miracle, and the conditional chastisement, may be human nature.
But it is clearly not what the Blessed Virgin asks or wants of us. Instead, we are asked -- repeatedly -- to focus on the present: to love our neighbours as ourselves, to be faithful in the little things as well as the big ones, to mend our ways... now.
There is no easy way to do this. Christ gave up His very life to prove this point, and countless saints through the ages have suffered to underscore it. Mercifully, most of us probably never will be called to be martyrs for the faith, but all of us in our own way are called to give up things that stand in the way of a closer walk with Christ.
Consider again Garabandal. Where, then, should our focus be? On the past, which we increasingly see in a dimmer, subjective light? On a future we cannot possibly hope to piece together from bits and pieces of both fact and fiction? Or on the present, through which we have a roadmap to navigate?
One woman mentioned recently, "I don't really think about the Miracle anymore. I think about now." If we really reflect upon it, isn't this exactly the attitude all of us should have as well?
And this really is the point: To remember the message of Garabandal, we sometimes need to forget the events of Garabandal.
Apart from the obvious disservice we do to the Blessed Virgin by focusing overly much on the future, there is another danger linked to it. We simply do not know what will happen in any great detail, much less when, or even how. There have been numerous works published on Garabandal that seek to unlock its future mysteries. But every author admits that, in the end, the conclusions are speculative at best. We do not have a particularly strong track record at guessing the mind of God.
The effort expended on this also has given rise to some truly bizarre legends that cloud the message of Garabandal. Two cases in point: We have come across supposed "eyewitness accounts" of the visionaries having flown over the housetops of the village, or even bi-locating, neither of which ever happened. Yet these tales have taken on a life of their own, and are now found in published books and on Internet sites.
The more we rely upon our own intellect or guesswork to "fill in the gaps" or conjecture what we think must have, should have, or could have happened at Garabandal, the greater the risk we run of clouding the true importance of its message.
On a spiritual level, should it really matter to us? Of course we'd all like to know, but that door is closed to us. We cannot open it no matter how much we try. There is no one person or organisation that can do so. So instead we wait.
We wait, and we listen. Not to conjecture, not to speculation, not to rumour, nor even to our failing memories, but to a voice that is clear today as it was four decades ago. And now, not at some future point, we seek to live its message, even if it means forgetting the events that gave rise to it.
Written by Geoffrey A.P. Groesbeck
from GARABANDAL INTERNATIONAL Magazine Oct - Dec. 2002