It was not the custom in South America, where I was raised, for students to work during the breaks between school terms. But when I went to college and the three-week vacation came, I felt it was time to get a job. I wanted to make an offering to Divine Mother, to spend the entire three weeks communing with God. I would find some kind of physical work that would leave my mind free to think only of Her.
I got a job in a manufacturing plant that made steel containers. For ten hours a day, four days a week, from 3:30 in the afternoon until 1:30 in the morning, I pulled finished containers out of the oven as the paint dried, stacked them in twos and fours, then loaded them onto a moveable cart. It was hot, hard work.
It was also blissful, at least at first. The plant was so noisy that I could chant “O God Beautiful” at full voice without disturbing anyone.
I commuted to work on my bicycle. In the afternoons I followed a beautiful trail through the woods. At night, however, even with a full moon, under the overhanging trees it was so dark that I couldn’t see the path and had to take a much less-congenial route down a main street.
At the end of the first week, I felt my effort to be with Divine Mother had been a grand success. When the second week began, however, I noticed a marked decline in my feeling of bliss. Physically I was exhausted, being completely unaccustomed to this kind of labor. With fatigue came a loss of faith in my ability to keep my promise to God. Self-doubt proved to be self-fulfilling. I was never able to recapture the bliss I had at the beginning. I felt like a spiritual failure. In the middle of that second week, when I got home, I had a complete breakdown.
Somehow I pulled myself together enough to make it through the rest of the week and the one that followed. Those were long hard days. Fatigue and discouragement were my enemies, but I fought against them and kept Divine Mother with me as much as I could. I continued to chant mentally when I couldn’t summon the strength to use my voice.
I was very sad and told Divine Mother how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to keep Her constantly with me. Still, I had done my best, and on the last day I asked for some reassuring sign of Her favor.
“Perhaps,” I said, “we can ride home together. Not on the busy street, but through the forest path.” Maybe it was a foolish prayer. Even with a full moon I had found it was too dark to ride there.
When I came out of the factory at the end of my shift, I was astonished to see a thin layer of rain clouds covering the entire sky, forming perfect “light panels” reflecting the moonlight everywhere. It looked like twilight rather than the middle of the night.
As I rode down the forest path, easily visible, a soft rain began to fall, lifting from me the exhaustion of the last three weeks. I felt Divine Mother’s presence telling me, “By doing your best to keep Me always in your heart, by never giving up despite the setbacks, you have pleased Me very much.”