The Children of the Blue Nun Chapter XIXB: Sister Mariá learns the meaning of the sandals

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Lienzo de Sor María de Jesús de Ágreda: The Virgin explains to her the meaning of the sandals in the parable of the Prodigal Son. 'The sandals, my daughter,' said the Virgin, smiling, 'stand for our steps in life: the sandals can lead us toward God, they can lead us away from God or they can lead us to walk with God.'

While Sister María was lying in the coffin with her eyes closed, the Virgin Mary spoke to her softly:

"At the beginning of the world, God the father, guided by his wisdom, created Adam and Eve, thinking that they were to live forever. But, because of their disobedience, when they were deceived by the serpent, death entered the world and came to form part of the children of our first parents," she whispered. "Death, nevertheless, is not the end of our road. As the hymn says: 'We are not the flesh of a blind destiny.' Death is a deep sleep wherein we rest in the love of God until we enter eternal life."

"When thou fell asleep in Christ, Lady, Mother," Sister María asked her, "didst thou also die in Christ?"

"No, my daughter," the Virgin replied. "Death never had dominion over me. When I left my terrestrial life, Jesus himself came for me in body and soul, and assumed me into Heaven along with his own ascension, without harm to my dream nor my transition to life in God."

"Jesus Christ gave us the parable of the Prodigal Son, Lady Mother," Sister María said to the Virgin. "He told us that heaven may be likened to a rich man who had two sons; the first one was obedient but the younger one wanted to follow his own path and to do his own will. He asked his father for his whole inheritance and when he received it, he went off to spend his riches following a vile life and pleasing his lust.

"It so happened that a famine ravaged the land and the prodigal son was obliged to return to his father's home, humble and repentant. His father caught sight of him while he was still far away and he ran to greet him with open arms. What is the meaning to this parable, Lady Mother?"

"As thou surmiseth, daughter, the father stands for God the father who distributes all his riches among the bad and the good. When the prodigal son returns home contrite of spirit, his father sends his servants to put a new garment on him, to put a ring on his finger and to put sandals on his feet. How wouldst thou interpret those symbols, daughter?" she asked her softly.

"The garment that his father draped on him represents the robe of glory that God give us whenever we return to him contrite. The ring that he put on his son's finger is the symbol of authority over the evil that he had overcome, but I can't even guess at the meaning of the sandals, Lady Mother."

"The sandals, my daughter," said the Virgin, smiling, "stand for our steps in life: the sandals can lead us toward God, they can lead us away from God or they can lead us to walk with God."

"Thank you, Lady Mother," Sister María said to the Virgin, engulfed in a supreme delirium. "I appreciate thine explanation. Our humble sandal, so oftentimes unappreciated, can lead the rest of the body toward eternal life where God can wipe away the dust from our lives and he washes our feet even as he did it for his Apostles."

"Sometimes the lack of sandals can remind thee that it is necessary to be humble before God," added the Virgin Mary. "When thou profesest thy vows as a Conceptionist and Franciscan nun, thou stoodest unshod, even as God had done unto Moses when he spoke to him on Mount Horeb."

When Sister María awoke, her sister nuns were looking at her.

Author Larry Torres is a Taos historian, linguist and teacher. Find prior chapters of this story in Spanish and English on

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