I had briefly touched on the moving picture Somewhere In Time, in one of my previous posts, titled “Discipline Your Mind” (a quote referenced from the same film). The storyline is one of my very favorites; it’s both enchanting and mysterious. The author of the book, Richard Matheson, was inspired when he saw an old photograph of a woman from another time period; he fell in love with the picture and imagined himself being able to go back in time to meet the lady from the image. This was all he needed to put this idea down on paper and bring the characters to life, in his book “Bid Time Return”, which later became the film I mentioned above with a slightly altered title. One of the most intriguing aspects of the story is when the main character Richard Collier, a famous playwright, is at a party celebrating the success of his work when an elderly woman who has been observing him from a secluded area of the room, finally makes her way onto the scene.
The room begins to grow silent as one by one, those in the crowd at the party notice her and step aside; something about this lady moves the bystanders to cease speaking. As she moves toward Richard, she puts her hand on his shoulder and by that point there is no more noise in the room; one could hear a pin drop. He turns to look at the woman and is instantly taken aback by her expression and appearance; the clothes and hair style resemble that of the early 1900’s. His astonishment only increases when the elderly woman says “come back to me” as she proceeds to place an old fashioned pocket watch into the palm of his hand. She leaves the room as majestically and mysteriously as she entered and Richard emphatically proclaims “I have never seen her before in my life!” However, during the eight years following this inexplicable evening, he continues to carry this pocket watch with him wherever he goes.
The audience witnesses how over time Collier becomes a successful and well known playwright. At some point, he decides to take a break to clear his head and finds himself checking into the historic Grand Hotel wherein he begins to uncover the mystery of his past unexplainable and puzzling encounter with the unfamiliar woman. While browsing through the hotel’s hall of history, the most haunting moment of the movie occurs. Richard is looking at an old display case when suddenly, as if being pulled by a magnetic force, he senses something from the other side of the room calling for his complete attention. As he turns ever so slowly to the right, his eyes rest on a captivating portrait of a young woman he has never met, but is strangely drawn to, as if he has known her his whole life.
So mesmerized by the portrait, he keeps returning to gaze at it each day, losing sleep over it and not quite sure why the image is possessing his mind and thoughts. Finally, he begins asking questions of the hotel staff about this young woman and who she was. When his research reveals that she was a young stage actress, who after a play in 1912 completely withdrew herself from the industry and the world, he sets out to learn all he can about her. Why would a woman who was described as having once been so full of life, never seen in public in her later years? He looks through old theater production magazines dating from the 1900’s and discovers one issue focused on her career. The article reveals the last photograph ever taken before her death – incredibly, it is a picture of the same woman who uttered the words “come back to me” and placed the pocket watch in his hands. The outstanding classical music, composed by John Barry, is remarkable. The incredible expression of “discipline your mind” eventually led me to write about how, in a very radical way, to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (Saint Paul). This was the blog post I mentioned in my introduction; I will only allude to the fact that he travels back in time and not only meets this woman, but discovers that the very reason why he was so drawn to the portrait was because in the actual the moment of the picture being taken…. she was indeed looking at him in that precise instant of the flash of the Camera. The film producers posed a question to the audience, “have you ever seen a picture of someone for the first time and immediately fell in love with them and longed to know them or felt as though you already did know them?”
Being an old soul who always had a flare for romanticism and the “impossible” so to speak, I thought about it and came up short. But then I was instantly realizing that humanly speaking the answer is “no”….but Divinely speaking, yes… yes I have seen a photograph of Someone and immediately knew I loved Them. In fact, I had to laugh at how my own experience was JUST as spot on as Richard Collier’s. A year before I saw the photograph(s) I am about to reveal, I bought an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to this day it is the most beautiful image of Our Lady I have ever seen. Her Face is simply radiant and She is smothered in the color She is typically always depicted wearing- blue! When I bought this photograph and had it framed, it hung on my wall in my college apartment and was taken with me wherever I moved following university life. Every time I looked at Mary’s magnificent beauty in this picture, Her Face in particular, I felt in my heart this image was the closest to be found on earth (in my lowly opinion) that imitated Her true features. Despite having to wait until my death to see what She actually looks like, this painting always felt like a small preview or foretaste of that Woman I love more than life, as I am constantly contemplating what Her appearance may be in my every day activities. Of course the painting I am referring to of the Immaculate Heart is Italian, let’s face it, what brilliant Catholic artist wasn’t from Italy?
During the year when the “life of a nun” kept popping up in my head (and I did all I could to try and push it out- I avoided that call like a true champion) I kept setting my eyes and heart on Mary’s photograph in my apartment. Mary became not only my Mother, but my Queen and Best Friend- my everything. So, the actual image She pointed to, I always attribute to Her being the One who wanted me to see it in Her own perfect timing, when She knew I was ready. In order for this all to make a little more sense as I build up to this scene, you must know that I did in fact love Our Lord, but I avoided Him in many ways because I had an instinct that He wanted me to be a nun and I didn’t want to hear anything of the kind. I simply thought I would do my part: love Him but perhaps converse with Him as little as possible since you can’t marry someone you never talk to, right?
But it was also in this very moment, where experiences like the one I am about to share, began truly showing me the big difference between just being a nun (which sounded ghastly) and being a bride of Christ. I was getting ready to help staff a college retreat for our University Catholic Church; a bunch of my friends and myself from Ram Catholic set out to buy “Catholic goodies” (holy cards etc.) to give to the new students attending that weekend, at a little gift shop called “Heavenly Delights” (same store I purchased the Immaculate Heart painting). It was SUCH a Somewhere in Time moment, as my foot crossed the threshold of the door, and the image on display where I found Mary’s image was none other than a painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I had never in my life seen before. I remember my reaction to it very clearly, it was one of having to hold my breath for a slight moment. My heart indeed did speed up a little as I couldn’t help saying to myself “He is the most beautiful Man I have ever seen”. This excited me, but scared me as well, as I was afraid to be feeling this way, but I sensed He was my Soulmate- with the bride in the Song of Songs, my heart was begging my head to cry, “I have found the one my soul loves!” Since my head was indeed saying “shh, no you have not, shrug it off.” I couldn’t shrug it off, as not only did I end up walking out the door with this painting after purchasing it, but the main reason I knew I loved it so much was that it was the exact phototype of the other picture I had in my apartment of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The beauty I knew so well from Mary’s painting were the same features to be found in the one of the Sacred Heart. The image of Our Lord was identical to Her’s, this is not an exaggeration as I knew the artist was the same! What were the odds?
One of the sisters in Carmel was telling the other novices, how Oxford did a study on Our Lord’s height based on the measurements from the Shroud of Turin, which estimated Our Lord’s height exactly around 5 foot 11 inches ( you can imagine my own excitement as I am 5’9). What I find most fascinating is reflecting on Our Lord’s genetics: His DNA, traits and features. Not being the biological Son of Joseph, but conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, common sense simply tells us that Christ’s features come solely from Mary, and Mary alone. I can sink my teeth and meditate on this truth for hours. These two glorious paintings of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary prove this extraordinary fact; the artist was clearly thinking the same thing as he (or she) grasped the paint brush and brought these ideas to their canvas. It’s providential now, as I write this, because my one prayer to Mary before seeing this image of Our Lord and before my conversion of heart in being Christ’s bride was, “let me simply marry a man who is devoted to You with everything they have”. I remember grinning when I saw Who She answered that prayer with. What brings me the most joy is that these very images sell the most on my poor Etsy shop; these same paintings that mean everything to me and have been so much a part of my own journey, clearly resonate with so many other souls, in this valley of tears. If all I end up doing in this life is merely pointing God’s children to these two Hearts, in these particular photographs, I shall be quite content in simply witnessing this King and Queen so tenderly loved as they deserve. May these Sacred Hearts console you and lure you in with Their beauty, the way They did me, all those years ago…