Penny’s Nephew

Since 1981 apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported occuring to a group of children in Medjujorge in the then Yugoslavia. Whether you give credence to such reports or not is up to you. I went there in 1985 and the week I spent there was a week of grace. I saw nothing ‘supernatural’ but I will never forget that week. The story behind this poem is just one of a number of profound events that happened to me there…

“What brings you here?” I asked her,

As we stood, in sub zero air,

On the steps of St. James’ church,

Early 85, Medjujorge.


Pilgrims both, in search of what?

The latest holy craze, or maybe

Grace, an experience of God?

Miracle, or just curiosity?


“It’s my second time here”, she said.

Penny told her story thus:

Her little two year old nephew,

Was the source of all the fuss.


Kept alive by strong medicine;

Born with hardly any brain stem;

His devastated parents told,

How he’d never recognise them.


The family desperate for help,

Heard of miracles from afar;

Nothing ventured, nothing gained,

Straws grasped, no matter how bizarre.


Far behind the Iron Curtain,

Scary for any American;

A small town between the hills,

Not on any tourist guide plan.


The only ‘gift’ to be brought back?

A call to prayer and fasting;

No instant miracle cures here,

Yet something much more lasting!


A year past since that first visit;

“How’s the little boy now?” I said:

No great change in his condition,

No response from that tiny bed.


“But we’ve no doubt at all whatever,

In God’s time, in God’s way,

He will be completely healed;

We so look forward to that day!”


“That’ll be the second miracle!”

She spoke with utter conviction:

“We’ve already received the first!

So that’s no idle prediction…”


And what first miracle received?

Friends and wider family,

Given to prayer and fasting:

Lives transformed so utterly!


Mary’s message taken to heart;

God’s grace unleashed through them;

Time spent in prayer and fasting;

Great fruits sprouting from that stem.


The strength of her faith plain to see:

“In God’s time, in God’s way,

We’ve no doubt at all whatever,

He will be healed, one fine day!”


“Isn’t it great what God can do!

To use a tiny helpless thing,

Thought by some not worth living,

To deliver widespread blessing!”


Medjujorge miracle?

Perhaps the miracle to see:

People taking Jesus’ teaching

And example seriously…