Everyday Miracles

I look for them.  Sometimes, I find them.  Mostly they escape my view.  These old eyes are getting a little tired, you know.  But, it has become quite clear to me that the majority of extraordinary events occur right in front of us, in plain sight.  So, even though we are looking, we miss most of them.

Ask anybody.  “Can you name one miracle that you have seen in the last week?”  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Anything?  I didn’t think so.

For most of us, the stuttering begins immediately after the stunned silence.  We might name an obscure event that happened to someone whose name we can’t remember.  If hard-pressed, we might be able to list one miracle we have seen ourselves in our lifetime.  But, one in the last week?  The answer is likely to come, “No.  Not a single one.”

I wonder if we have lost the perception of miracles because of this amazing technological age in which we live.  We turn on a device or two and we can communicate with anyone in the world almost instantly.  We carry gadgets that can track exactly where we are in the wide world.  Microwave ovens cook food in minutes; airplanes carry us to far off places at speeds that confound description.

Miracles, it seems, must compete with such man-made marvels to amaze and move us.  We are jaded, and our sense of proportion has become distorted since we left behind the innocence of our youth.  And, perhaps that is just the issue.

Who among us cannot remember chasing fireflies?  Remember that?  The long and hot summer day faded to twilight, with temperatures dropping to an almost bearable point.  Barefoot and desperate to stretch the day out as long as possible, we ran through the grass waving our hands at the twinkles which flashed teasingly.  Brightly they shone for an instant and we sped to the spot, awaiting another tell-tale flash.  When it came, it was feet from where we stood impatiently.  Jumping quickly toward the flash, we swung our hand toward the spot.  Not every time, but often enough, we would capture the little bug, with its tail section that flashed on and then off again like a turn-signal lamp on Dad’s fifty-seven Ford.  What an incredible creature!

The word miracle comes from the Latin which means a wonder, a marvel.  How does that not describe a firefly?  We are surrounded by similar marvelous creatures, by things that are wonderful beyond our ken.  Yet we commonly wander past a green lawn full of such creatures and don’t even notice them.  Every year, the miracle of new birth occurs as the trees put on their leafy clothes and provide us, not only with shade, but the very oxygen we breath.  How is that not a wonder?

Young ladies, just babies themselves a few years ago, visit the doctor and have pictures to show us of the tiny miracles growing inside their bodies.  How is new life not a marvelous thing?

I took a run through God’s creation tonight and realized that I have frequently missed many of these miracles myself.  The bull frogs began their rumbling chorus as I ran along the water’s edge and I wondered at their ability to thrive in the middle of a town.  The cicadas started their choir practice in the trees, one after another joining in until the entire wooded area was alive with their song.  The amazing insects have a life-span, between two and thirteen years, that far exceeds most other insects.  Their Creator has designed them to outlive their predators to insure the longevity of their species. These too, we used to chase in the evenings and catch them, just to feel the vibration of their wings as they buzzed and shook in our hands.

I came out of the trees and along the valley where the grassy field meets the wooded area, a small herd of deer lifted their heads from feeding to watch me.  Again, even with the town surrounding their habitat, they thrive, for the most part unharmed by the surrounding civilization.  The beauty of the noble animals is a wonder to me.

But then, I saw coming toward me on the trail, perhaps the most wonderful miracle of all.  The family was out for an evening outing, Dad and Mom walking rapidly.  Dad carried a baby in a backpack affair strapped to his shoulders and they both followed a boy who was pedaling his bicycle confidently, along with his younger sister.  She was also pedaling a bicycle, but not so very confidently.

I smile as I recall the scene at my grandchildren’s home the other day.  One of the little girls has just learned to ride without the aid of training wheels.  The action is not a thing of beauty, although the accomplishment is.  She rides as fast as she can, as if speed itself will keep her steed of iron and rubber upright.  It does, for a time.  Then she loses concentration for a second or two and swerves nervously.  The result is predictable. As she tumbles to the ground, there is no lying in a heap, no crying uncontrollably.  No–she jumps up and, flinging her leg over the machine anew, is flying low before anyone can approach her to help.

Not a miracle, you say?  Why, I remember pulling her up just to stand on weak, shaky legs as a baby!  I helped her to take some of her first steps!  I’d say that this is indeed a wonder!  And, it’s pretty marvelous!

Maybe it’s time for us to take a fresh look around.  The miracles aren’t the little gadgets we hold in our hands for communication.  The miracle is that we can communicate with each other at all.  The miracle isn’t the oven in which we cook our food.  The miracle is that our food gives us strength to live and love and grow.  We’re surrounded by miracles, if we just know where to look.

I heard a song the other day which started me thinking.  The country artist, Faith Hill, was singing about fireflies, and fairy tales, and Peter Pan.  Now, I don’t have a problem with using your imagination.  I’ve spent a good deal of my life doing just that.  My problem is that the person who wrote the song couldn’t be satisfied that those amazing and wonderful little bugs simply existed.  No, she had to make them into a little pretend fairy named Tinkerbell in order to be able to believe in a make-believe boy named Peter Pan.  It is a cute song, but it makes me ask if we’ve somehow lost our sense of wonder and the ability to marvel at the real world that exists around us.

I don’t have to make a firefly into Tinkerbell to marvel at what I hold in my hand.  What if we all looked at what we hold in our hands and realized what a miracle it is?  There is a whole world of things at which to wonder, a lifetime of events at which to marvel.

Time to clean our spectacles and get busy looking.

Seen any miracles lately?

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
(Albert Einstein~German-born physicist~1879-1955)

“I found a mayonnaise bottle and poked holes on top
To capture Tinkerbell.
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye,
But I could always tell.”
(Lori McKenna~American folk singer/songwriter)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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