When Tiago knelt on the bank of the river Ebro, he felt exhausted and tired and tears were running down his cheeks. He stared into the water flowing by. Usually, that made him feel better, when he was fighting with doubt. As if the peace of the flowing water, was simply entering his mind and body. This time, however, there was no effect. Maybe he was too tired.
“I cannot even think one clear thought anymore; I always understood that this is where you wanted me to go, that I’m fulfilling your plans for me”, he said silently to himself – at the same time addressing the sky above.
Looking up, he complained: “Why aren’t you leading me better? I don’t understand your signs!?”
For many years he had followed the signs, he had learned to understand. But today, more than ever before, he questioned whether the signs had shown him the right way or if he had really understood them.
He was ready to give up.
His journey had taken a toll on his body and over the past couple of months, he felt increasingly unfocused and insecure. And then, there was the aspect of the dream, that scared him, that showed him, he would die in its realization. Sometimes he felt as if that couldn’t be true, sometimes he was sure of it.
“When will I finally be able to distinguish between what my hopes and dreams are and what God’s will is for me? God, I beg you, if you do exist, do send me signs that I understand. I have reached the end of my powers.”
It was a mild winter afternoon in January. The sun was just going down. And he continued to pray, complain and contemplate, kneeling under the old oak tree. Talking to his God as if he was talking to a friend in front of him.
Suddenly, right in front of him, a leaf that seemed to be made of light, fell on the ground. He looked at it, then looked above, into the tree, which didn’t bear any leaves. He looked back at it and it was still glowing white and pulsating slowly. Tiago reached out to grasp it and when he touched it, it seemed as if everything around him was filled with a bright light. Then he saw it: A woman, who seemed to be hovering over the river and progressing towards him, glowing exactly like the leaf. She was moving quickly and kneeled right in front of him, taking his hands into hers.
“I understand your desperation”, she said, “but following your calling isn’t always easy. You shall not give up! Continue what you are doing. You are doing well and we’re all and constantly around you to help!”
With an almost unnoticeable movement, she produced from under her cloak a small wooden statue and a column of jasper and handed it to Tiago.
“Use these gifts and build a church in my honor around them. The place is to be my house, the statue and column shall be the title and altar of the church.”
“What’s happening here is exactly what I’ve been dreaming since I was a little boy!”, he screamed in excitement.
“The dream that you came into the world with, originated in God’s soul. That’s why it’s important to remember it. Once you remember, your only task in life, is to follow the signs to fulfill it”, she replied.
“Once you are on that journey, and whenever you are almost giving up, I appear in different forms. That’s why you always need to pay attention to the signs!”
“What’s your name?” he asked her. And leaning forward, she kissed him on his forehead and said “Maria.”
She disappeared as quickly as she had come. Only that she seemed to have taken his doubts with her.
“The signs I will follow, for the rest of my life”, Santiago said to himself.