Is It a Miracle?

May 3, 2011
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“FINE!” I exclaim, standing up and hurtling the quarter-sized silver lock across the room. I watch through tears of frustration as it hits the ground and skips like a rock on water, skidding to rest underneath the couch. I set the worthless keys on the kitchen table and sit back down, scowling in the lock’s direction. I am ten, and have been trying unsuccessfully for the past twenty minutes to unlock the lock which keeps all of the highly-classified secrets in my diary safe from prying eyes. The same key that unlocked the lock less than thirty minutes earlier suddenly refuses to work for me now. I notice a movement on the wall in the kitchen. The sun’s rays are reflecting off the water in my pool, creating glowing yellow snakes of sunshine on the inside walls of my house. I look outside, and feel my anger melt away as I study the sky. It is startlingly blue, and decorated haphazardly with fluffy clouds that look more like cotton balls than water in its gaseous state.

I wipe my eyes. How can you get so worked up over a stupid lock, Danielle? I think, instantly feeling very young and silly. If you’re listening, God, I’m not very happy with you, and I hope you’re getting a kick out of this. I walk over to the couch, crouch onto my knees, and fumble blindly underneath it for the lock. After locating it, I set it down on the kitchen table and run upstairs in search of a replacement. After an unsuccessful search, I return to the kitchen and am shocked by what I see. The lock is sitting on the table, open, keys next to it, shining in the sunlight. I stare, confused. Minutes ago it, was an impenetrable fortress, immune to the forces of keys and impact. I pick it up, perplexed, and then I understand. I guess God wants me to be happy with him today, I think, running to tell my mom about the miracle that just occurred under our very own roof.

Fast-foreword eight years. I don’t think I’ve ever been so hot in my entire life. The air conditioning is off to save gas, the car windows are up to minimize wind resistance, and my mother and I are frantically watching the number of miles between us and the next gas station grow smaller and smaller on the GPS system in my car. It is our first drive from my hometown in Southern California to Tempe, and we neglected to fill up the tank in my Camry before our trip into the desert. The hand on the gas gauge has rested well below “E” for almost thirty minutes now, and my mother and I are both panicking. Finally, a station comes into view, and immediately after we turn in, the power steering in my car gives out. My mother and I look at each other, and then begin laughing the kind of relieved laughter which shakes your entire body. “Well, I don’t think we could have cut that any closer,” I say, stepping out of the car. “I know, it’s a miracle,” my mother replies. “For a while, I didn’t think we were going to make it. Guess the big guy upstairs is looking out for us.” Something like that, I think, looking up at the orange and blue 76 ball, framed by a careless sky.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” In Miracles, David Hume approaches the subject from a different angle, classifying a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature.” My definition is a bit different. To me, a miracle is an event for which there is no explanation, yet. Being able to lock up my diary and making it safely to a gas station constituted miracles to me, at least initially, before my mother and deductive reasoning gave them ordinary explanations.
The “miracle” of my lock opening was only a miracle for about five minutes. After I found my mother, I explained the entire situation to her, and at the end of my story exclaimed, “Mom, it was a miracle! He must have heard me, seen how upset I was, and then decided to make it work again!” My mother looked at me, and I know she picked her following words very carefully. “Danielle, miracles do happen, never doubt that. God is always watching, and at times He does intervene in our lives and creates wonders. But he didn’t open your lock.” I looked up at her, and thought I saw disbelief in her face. “How do you know He didn’t?” I challenged. “Because I heard you throw it, and while you were in your room I went downstairs and opened it for you.” I looked up at her, crestfallen. I didn’t want to believe it. In a matter of minutes, my miracle had become nothing more than a mother with gentle hands, and more patience than I.
Similarly, the “miracle” of making it to a gas station wasn’t miraculous for very long. My Camry has a 16 gallon gas tank, and when I filled it up at the station the meter said I’d put in 15.96 gallons. Although it is by far the closest I have ever come to filling up the entire tank, (and I have certainly never experienced a loss of power steering), I still had .04 gallons of gas in my car. Divine intervention did not get me safely to a gas station. Instead, Toyota designers knew silly people like my mother and me would push the capacities of our gas tanks to the limits, and intentionally designed the gauge to read lower than the actual amount of gas. The “miracle” was really car designers foreseeing potential problems of their customers, and designing their cars to avoid these problems.

No matter how you define a miracle, I have yet to witness one. I’ve come close many times, almost been tricked into thinking I was so important a divine power felt the need to intervene in my life, only to realize my “miracles” had not-so-miraculous explanations. Had my mother never told me it was she who managed to open my lock, I might have sworn on my deathbed that God himself made those keys work. Miracles are subjective. For example, a person who lived a thousand years ago in a climate where the temperature never goes below freezing would find it miraculous that water can be a solid. However, for someone living in Greenland, there would have been nothing miraculous about water freezing. People think they experience miracles every day, whether it’s something silly like making your ten minute drive to work in five minutes and consequently being on time, or a serious situation, such as a terminally ill cancer patient making a sudden recovery. Any out-of-the ordinary occurrence, for which there is initially no explanation, can be considered a miracle. Perhaps miracles are blessings we don't know precisely who to thank for (yet), and when we find the explanations, we know where to place our gratitude.

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LiesAreLeadingMeAstray said...
May 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm
I believe in miracles for many reasons....
JoPepper said...
May 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I didn't know that was the defination of "miracle"! wow you really do learn something new everyday.That was good!!!:D


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