unpolished thoughts 2/28/2019
Have you ever experienced a miracle?
In other words, have you ever witnessed a situation that appeared to be headed from bad to worse that somehow shifted and got better?
How did it happen?
We often define events as miraculous precisely because we don’t know how to explain them. If we do come up with an explanation, we will probably attribute this miracle to forces that greater than what we can comprehend.
If that’s so, then how do you produce a miracle?
I think most would agree with me that it can’t be done. However, we all know that miracles certainly have been known to happen. Unexpected breakthroughs that transform lives do sometimes take place. If you think back through your own history, you might find one.
But why ask this question anyways?
For me, it’s very concrete. I find myself in the position of having been asked to produce a miracle.
I am now working with a man in a dire condition. He has the best care possible, but there are no guarantees. Despite the odds, his family is extremely dedicated and will not rest until they know they have done all they can.
They have asked me to help.
What I’m learning as the situation unfolds is that while we can’t produce miracles, we can encourage them. That’s how I understand my role.
What things discourage miracles?
There are many things, but chief among would seem to be doubt. Yet this doesn’t mean that blind optimism is the best antidote.
So where is the hopeful road in between these extremes that does not ignore the steepness of the climb?
My practice is to communicate softly and respectfully with this man, giving him a warm invitation that is his own choice to accept or not. He lives somewhere deep inside himself, but does not presently acknowledge the world around him.
Can this produce a miracle? God willing, as they say.
What I do know is that to make demands and be insistent would seem to fly in the face of the miraculous. If superhuman powers should deign to contribute their aid, I find it hard to believe that they would respond to merely human force.
So I am patient, quiet, respectful and attentive.
That last word is essential. It is my job to notice everything.
A slight change in the expression of his face. A small gesture of the hand. Signs of life.
If these moments are in fact the faint first glimmers of a miracle, they must not be ignored. They must be attended to and highlighted.
This is my practice, together with many others who love this man. Patience is the most difficult part. But who knows the true nature of how a miracle unfolds? Who could seriously expect that it would follow our schedule?
Miracles are not ours to make. Nor can we expect to understand them.
We can only seek to encourage a miracle, and hold open the space for it.
In this moment, I discover something obvious that somehow I never noticed before, a word inside a word.
To encourage a miracle requires courage.
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