“They have no wine.”
by Kitty Cleveland
When I was 11 years old my parents sent me to a summer horseback riding camp in the mountains of North Carolina for four weeks. I was anxious about it because I didn’t know a soul and had never been away from home for so long. But I had been taking horseback riding lessons at Audubon Park near my home in New Orleans, and this seemed like the perfect fit.
Upon arrival, I learned that all of the girls in my cabin already knew each other and had brought their own horses, plus trunks filled with name-brand clothing and English riding gear. Not only did I not have a horse, but my no-name jeans and Le Tigre polo shirts from K-Mart–which my mother assured me were just as good as Izod polo shirts–were enough to quickly brand me as the nerdy outsider.
I was also chubby and self-conscious about my body, so I dreaded the communal showers with my lanky cabin mates. A couple of days might pass without a bath, and when I did go it was only when everyone else was otherwise occupied. This did not help my popularity.
One day I walked into the cabin to find all of the girls waiting for me, giggling. Looking at them quizzically, one of them finally blurted out, “You have B.O.!”
“I don’t know what that means,” I said, knowing it wasn’t good. They clarified, “Body odor. You stink!”
My face blushed red, and I quietly went to my cubby to reapply my deodorant. After showering, I played pinball in a basement somewhere until it was time for the evening assembly. There I sat alone, feeling completely dejected and unloved. From then on I simply counted the days until I could go home again.
At the wedding feast of Cana, it isn’t difficult for me to imagine the social embarrassment of the groom and his family upon running out of wine for their wedding guests. In the ancient Jewish custom, it was the groom’s family who hosted the reception in their home, and it was open to the whole community. Running out of wine would have negative social repercussions that would last for years. So Mary delicately takes the matter to Jesus before any of the guests notice, trusting that he has the power to remedy the problem.
In some ways, it seems like a small matter to become the cause of his first public miracle and the first step on their road to Calvary. But I think there’s an important message that the Holy Spirit wants to convey here, namely that our smallest personal needs–the details of our daily lives–really do matter to God. They matter to Mary, too. In fact, I’d wager that we have each had countless needs met through Mary’s intercession, needs that we didn’t even know we had or didn’t remember to take to prayer, but that she took to Jesus for us.
Yesterday my brilliant 11-year-old daughter was denied admittance to an academically excellent private school because she pulled out a small stuffed animal while visiting the classes. The teachers decided that she was too socially immature for the sixth-grade girls, who would most likely ostracize her for being different.
While I have mixed feelings about their assessment, the memories from my camp experience came flooding back. All these years later, that feeling of profound loneliness–of being excluded and without a friend in the world–is still palpable. I don’t think I’ve ever fully brought that memory to prayer for healing, probably because it has seemed so insignificant.
In reality, it was a deep wound. Psychologist Abraham Maslow posited in his book Motivation and Personality that “love and belonging” is one of the fundamental needs of the human person, and the fear of exclusion and not being loved is one of the most primal fears.
So I ask you, where have you “run out of wine?” Are there old painful memories or current concerns–especially regarding humiliation or exclusion–that seem too small to take to God? He understands so well, and he longs to console your trembling heart–mine, too.
Let’s humbly bring our poverties to the Lord, asking him, through the intercession of our mother Mary, to work miracles of healing and transformation both in us and in those we love. And like the water turned to wine, may he glorify our wounds so that they might become a source of blessing to others.
WINE Evangelist and Music Missionary
If I had to boil down the essence of what I feel called to do, it is to encourage people—whether through music, storytelling, or teaching from the great Catholic spiritual writers and my own life experience. Tears in the audience (and occasionally from me) are not uncommon, and I consider them sacred. My audiences and I also laugh a lot, which I consider to be a true gift of the Holy Spirit. These audiences have ranged from women’s prayer breakfasts to Legatus groups to large family conferences.