A.H.S.C.K.NY.E: Everyday Miracles
Advent: The miracle sense of anticipation and expecta-
tion. The word from which we get adventure.
Hanukkah: The miracle of an oil lamp staying lit for 8
days on barely enough oil to sauté an anchovy.
Solstice: The miracle of our tilted spinning earth be-
ginning to lean itself so that the Northern Hemi-
sphere can grow gardens and get a tan.
Christmas: The miracles of the birth of a little God/
child to a teen-aged mom and her befuddled fiancé
at tax time.
Kwanzaa: The miracle of love and home and commu-
nity that somehow keeps appearing generation
New Year: The miracle that the earth has made it
around the sun one more time and hasn’t dumped
Epiphany: The miracle of some confused astrologers
who followed a star which led them far from home
to discover a baby king in a cattle trough.
Many, many folks around the world remember and celebrate these miracles all within a period of about 40 days. In Hebrew tradition, the number “40” meant an indeterminate amount of time. Noah and his zoo-ship cruised around while it rained 40 days and 40 nights. Moses went up to hang with God for 40 days. Twice. The whiny and unruly Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Elijah gobbled up what must have been a kick-ass angelic meal and then made it to Mt. Horeb 40 days later on that meal alone. And Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness trying to figure out his gig. And so on. And this 40 day Advent to Epiphany sprint is what we call “holidays.” That is to say, “Holy Days.”
And sometimes they fly by so fast or drag on so long that time does seem indefinite. Unfixed. Confusing. These crazy days are when millions of people around the world celebrate the possibility that miracles happen, that God is with us and that we don’t – or never will – understand it all.
Why do we do this? Why put ourselves through the meals and gifts and parties and rituals and candles and fireworks and family hoohah – oh, the family hoohah! – year after year? Are we that starved for celebration? Are we stuck in a holiday rut? Or could it be that in some outrageous way, we humans crave the sense that miracles are real? We love to hear the miraculous stories again and again. We love to sing songs and decorate our homes and eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink in honor of these miracles.
And perhaps, in celebrating these ancient miracles, we open ourselves to the very real possibility that everything is finally a miracle. Everything. Every thing. The fact that life exists, that we can see the moon rise or taste Aunt Mildred’s rum cake or enjoy a tender smooch under the mistletoe or can even read these very words and make some sense of them – all are miracles. All are truly beyond our understanding. All indicate that some sort of magic is present and life is much grander and deeper than we could ever know.
You woke up this morning. You might not have; but you did. Miracle! The sun appeared on the same morning you woke up, meaning the earth is still spinning at just the right speed and distance from the sun. It might not be happening; but it is. Miracle! You may well experience pleasure or pain today. Or both. And you might think about that experience or maybe even write a poem about it. Miracles!
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we breathe, but by the moments that take our breath away,” quoth George Carlin. And you can guarantee that the more we come to recognize everyday miracles, the more our breath will be snatched away.