What Makes a Miracle?

by Michael Channing

Open the door and see all the people, with Wal Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Does anybody believe in miracles anymore? Walt Whitman saw them everywhere. He wrote, "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels."

A mouse? Really?

Remember when the Chilean miners were trapped underground for over two months? When they were freed, the whole world proclaimed it a miracle. Roger Ebert, however, said no. They were brought up with science and engineering. No miracles necessary.

So what is a true miracle?

To paraphrase Pulp Fiction, it doesn't matter if what you witness is an according-to-Hoyle miracle, what matters is that you feel the touch of God.

Sometimes the touch of God is a hard clap to the back of the neck, sometimes a light nudge of the elbow.

A few months ago, Connie and I took our little nephew out to eat. The first thing he did when we got settled in our booth was to flood the table and floor with a full glass of water. I didn't know at the time, but that was the Universe tapping me on the shoulder. At the end of the meal, our nephew stood up on the bench and announced he had peed in his diaper. Loudly, over and over: "Connie, I peed. I peed, Connie. I peed."

And I started laughing uncontrollably. Connie caught my giddiness and started laughing along with me. The Universe said, "Pay attention. This is an amazing moment."

And it was.

Miracles aren't necessary. But they make our lives better. And Whitman was right. They are everywhere.

More Miraculous Things

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Chokes and Warbles
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Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing