I Believe in Miracles
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Ferlando. He lived on a little island that is known for its sorrow. At first glance, it would appear that this little boy who sings in creole has very little in the world. No mother, no father, no left eye. Not to mention, a cancer that is chasing his shadow. No hope, you might think?
But then there is his smile. Could it be God’s smile? It is large and it draws people to him. First one, then another and then another. Suddenly the life of a little boy with one eye, no parents, who sings in creole and with a smile that must be God’s—–begins to shimmer.
A way is made out of no way. The impossible becomes possible. The word “miracle” begins to sound sweet on the tongue.
The biography of Jesus of Nazareth is chock full of miracles: the blind man who sees, the paralytic who walks, the leper made clean, even the dead brought back to life. These narratives feel marvelous, extravagant, otherworldly. But do we believe them? Even after Jesus had just cured a multitude in St. Peter’s living room, there were those who tried their best to explain away the miraculous. Why are we so skeptical of the workings of grace? I don’t know if it is because we humans don’t like anything that we cannot hard prove or manifest ourselves. Or do we not believe in miracles out of self-protection? What if we never experience a miracle, especially if we have prayed fervently for one? What does that say about us? What does that say about God?
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t understand exactly how miracles work. I have witnessed what I would call many a miracle in my lifetime: the inexplicable and stunning hand of God in a given situation. I have also stormed the heavens for a miracle and been met with silence. Or was I?
In our depths, we want to believe in miracles because that means there is a power or supernatural force out there, greater than ourselves and our capacities, working to help us. If miracles are true, then we are not confined by the boundaries of our material existence, natural laws, even death. At any moment, or in every moment, there is the possibility of supernatural involvement in the plot of each of our stories.
Miracles lend our earthly reality its supernatural shimmer!
At Vanderbilt Divinity School, my studies focused on healing and the operation of miracles in Jesus’ ministry. I studied each of Jesus’s healing pericopes with a fine-tooth comb. Jesus was all about defying the odds and doing what we humans would deem the impossible. But for Jesus the miracle was so much more than the evidence of a physical transformation such as the blind man who is given sight. For Jesus is was about using love to transcend the cellular and touch the heart. It was an experience of the body, but more of the soul. And Jesus’s miracles had a ripple effect acting upon every heart in some illumined way within the radius of love.
I received a call in early January from a friend wondering if I could help a three and half year old orphan in Haiti who has cancer. I receive many calls about children with cancer. I happily open my rolodex of contacts in the pediatric cancer world and try to offer any bit of wisdom to those in need as so many did for me when my son had cancer. But this case was a little different. There was the smile. I decided to take a risk. A risk of my time, my heart, even my faith in miracles. Paraphrasing the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “I made room in my heart for the unimaginable.”
Sometimes the greatest miracle is our willingness to take a risk on love and grace—-And God!
What I have realized in my limited time on this planet is that often the miracle doesn’t come in a lightening bolt, burning bush, angel visitation, poof-you-are-cured kind of event. Miracles manifest in subtle tugs on the heart, soul stirrings, revelations at crossroads, words of encouragement, doors opened that were triple bolted, surprise yes’s when the answer should have been no, destined hearts brought together, creative solutions that could only have been conceived in the mind of God, and remarkable displays of sacrificial love that confirm an incandescent reality here. Or, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “Earth is crammed with heaven!”
Was water changed to wine? A blind man given sight? A paralytic made to walk? Jesus resurrected from the dead?
The risk for me is too great not to believe.
Especially, since I have seen with my own eyes a little boy with no mother or father, no left eye, who sings in creole, and with a smile that must be God’s miraculously eating a chocolate cake on his fourth birthday at my kitchen table!
Will I keep praying for a big miracle that Ferlando is cured? Of course! But I am also going to pray for the little miracles of love that keep me moving forward arms outstretched, risking my heart, hope in my breast, and pinching myself every time I witness a shimmer of God at work.
Live in hope Ferlando!
Thank you Rachel and Aaron White, Miriam, Jesnel and the angels of New Life orphanage in Haiti, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Bob Goff, Karris, Tracie and Scott Hamilton, Representative Jim Cooper and his team, Anne Clark, Carissa Perreira, Dr. Hudocort in Haiti, Dr. Friedman at Vanderbilt and especially, Ferlando for taking a risk on love! It is the message of Easter!