"August stepped closer. She kept the pressure steady against my hand. 'All those times your father treated you mean, Our Lady was the voice in you that said, "No, I will not bow down to this. I am Lily Melissa Owens. I will not bow down." Whether you could hear this voice or not, she was in there saying it.' "

"I took my other hand and placed it on top of hers, and she moved her hand free on top of it, so we had this black-and-white stack of hands resting upon my chest.

" 'When you're unsure of yourself,' she said, 'when you start pulling back into doubt and small living, she's the one inside saying, "Get up from there and live like the glorious girl you are." She's the power inside you, you understand?'

"Her hands stayed where they were but released their pressure. 'And whatever it is that keeps widening your heart, that's Mary, too, not only the power inside you but the love. And when you get down to it, Lily, that's the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love-but to persist in love.'

"She paused. Bees drummed their sound into the air. August retrieved her hands from the pile on my chest, but I left mine there.

" 'This Mary I'm talking about sits in your heart all day long, saying, "Lily, you are my everlasting home. Don't you ever be afraid. I am enough. We are enough." '

"I closed my eyes, and in the coolness of the morning, there among the bees, I felt for one clear instant what she was talking about.

"When I opened my eyes, August was nowhere around. I looked back toward the house and I saw her crossing the year, her white dress catching the light."