A LITTLE MIRACLE
Having endured a life of alcoholism Jim Brown was brought to Medjugorje under protest – and experienced something that was to change his life forever...
Well, I thought I had made the biggest mistake in my life because I saw this crowd of people all hugging each other and delighted to be with each other — and this was 5 o’clock in the morning at Shannon airport. I thought these were lunatics, and they were all so happy and joyous and they were saying to me how my life would never be the same again. One woman came over to me and she was fiddlin’ with me hair and telling me how lovely I was going to be, and that I would look so different and feel so different, and I was saying to myself, “If you don’t leave me alone, missis, you’ll never be the same again!”
She was behind me on the plane and she was overpowering, and then when we got over here I got onto the bus and she was on to me, telling me about all her experiences and I found it very difficult. I couldn’t take it any more. She told me she had seen the sun spinning. I said, “Listen missis, I’m an alcoholic. I drank every day for 20 years. I saw every town in Ireland spinning. I saw every ceiling spinning in every hotel room I ever laid down in. I saw a car coming up the main street in Tralee, on its side. So forget about all this stuff that you saw, just leave me alone.”
They actually put me into a very small house with only three other people and I thought there must be some kind of God because he had kept me away from these lunatics! I noticed that out the back there was a lovely garden and I thought I would stay there for the week and pick up with the group again on the way home seven days later, and that nobody would know where I was or miss me. But they came looking for me. I was with one Irish guy and he was part of a Galway group, and they came in looking all around the house, looking for the lost sheep. And they brought me over to Stanka’s house where there was a big group of about 40 of them. I didn’t want to be there. I certainly didn’t. I went down to Mass and it was packed. I thought, “What am I doing here? I don’t even go to Mass at home. I haven’t been at Mass for ten years and here I am in a packed church I can’t even sit down.” The idea of hiding for the rest of the week was the only thing in my mind at that stage.
But I went up Apparition Hill and I said to one man, a quiet guy who was on his own, “Do you know anything about this place?” “I do,” he said “I’ve been here ten times.” I said, “Will you just show me the spot where Our Lady appeared?” I was going to go up there, kneel down, say about three Hail Mary’s and see if I could make my own way back to Ireland.
But something happened when I got there. I just felt there was more to this than meets the eye. I just loved it. There was something inside me that changed. I was on a 12-step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous for seven years at that stage and I was told that it would fulfil all my spiritual needs but I always knew there was something missing and I had done an awful lot of therapy because I hadn’t cried for almost 30 years and I knew that there was a part in me that wasn’t right, and I saw the saddest situations and I saw the saddest things at graveyards and there wasn’t a tear out of me. It was like my head belonged to one man and my heart to somebody else. I just couldn’t seem to connect both. I would feel sad, and hence I couldn‘t show the love I had for people either.
That changed the idea of going home and then two days later I was sitting outside the house and the guy I was talking to, Johnny McCarthy, he thought I had dropped an article because I’d bent down. But in actual fact my head was forced down. It was as if I had gone down to pick up something, and I asked Johnny, did he feel that what came over me, did he feel that. And he said, “That’s probably Herself!” And I thought he was talking about the woman at the house, and he said, “No, it’s Our Lady, look at the time. It’s twenty to seven.” I thought he was joking. I said, “Sure Our Lady hasn’t been here for years.” He says, “Not at all, she arrives here every night at twenty to seven.”
And I didn’t pay anymore attention to it until the following day at Mass when the priest asked us to give the sign of peace. And he said, “Before you give the sign of peace, just look inside your own heart and see is there somebody you need to forgive.”
Now there was Mass for my mother and father a month before that in Westport and my sister, who lives in Meath, had booked it and she couldn’t get down, and she says to me, “Will you go to Mass for mamma and dad and I said, “No, I don’t want to go.” I was so angry and so bitter. I had grown up in an alcoholic house and I knew I was very angry with my father. I didn’t realise I was just so angry with my mother because I had asked her several times to protect me from what was going on and, even knowing that she couldn’t, at the same time it didn’t take away from the pain, and the abandonment I felt at the time.
So I didn’t realise that I was actually that angry with both of them, and that day at Mass when I went inside myself the tears started to come out of me, almost like rice. They were coming out in lumps. It wasn’t just like water, and I didn’t feel sad. All I felt was the greatest joy that I have ever felt in my life, the greatest forgiveness, and all I could think of was all the sacrifices that both parents had made because there was an alcoholic in the house and there was very little money — me mother had to work. I could see all the sacrifices that both of them had made to make my birthday possible and to make Santa Claus possible, for many years. That was me in the year 2000. It has taken extreme pain from me and turned into joy and acceptance, and forgiveness and love. And I knew that that was too good to keep it a secret and I had this need to get other people to experience it as well.
Our Lady gives messages to the visionaries regularly but the message that she gave to me was : “Bring them over, don’t judge them. That’s not your job. The Trinity is complete, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jim Brown’s job is to bring whoever wants to go, to Medjugorje, to facilitate, to get them over here.” Then that’s my job done.
• adapted from a documentary presented by Ireland’s Midwest Radio