Collision averted today, one miracle in a season of miracles.
Just in time I saw the dull gray sedan coming up on my right as I was about to make a left turn. On a dull gray day, when my mind was preoccupied with irritating matters. One of those near-misses I have experienced countless times behind the wheel, and that I imagine happens hundreds of times a day in crowded parking lots and on heavily-trafficked highways. I send my thanks heaven-ward, as it were, and move on uninjured and unimpeded to my next errand.
I am not much given to contemplating the miraculous, but this is the first day of Chanukah.
And the “Chanukah Story” that I grew up with was the miracle of the oil. The Israelites reclaimed the Holy Temple from the Greeks some 1800 years ago. In preparing to rededicate the space for worship, a single day’s worth of pure oil was found to burn in the re-kindled menorah. Instead, the oil lasted for eight days.
According to certain mystical teachings of the sages, miracles emanate from a level of creative power that precedes time and space, where delight infuses the divine urge to create. In some prayers we call upon this level, using the name “slow to anger.”
Since we are made in the image of God, this got me thinking about how we humans manifest miracles.
I was standing in a long check-out line a couple of days ago. The woman behind me smiled and shook her head. Because she had just reunited with a dear high-school classmate, the woman in front of me. Their reunion may have been a miracle of divine origin. The way the two of them shared their delight with me, a stranger between them, and lifted my down-in-the-dumps spirits was of their very human origin.
But the miracle that has become foundational in my life story is about my mom towards the end of hers.
Mom was genteel. She had her views about what it meant to live “like a lady.” She was intensely private when it came to her emotions, her troubles, and her business. She always had a social circle of friends. In fact, she twice made the effort to cultivate a new circle of younger friends as her own peers died one by one. Still, she was not one to reach out to strangers or to others who appeared much different.
But on my last visit with her in the nursing home where she spent the last three months of her life, I was wheeling her through the diningroom on our way back to her room, when she asked me to stop next to a small table. A woman sat alone and downcast over her meal. My mother reached over, patted her hand and said sweetly, “How are you tonight, dear?” They exchanged a few words, and we went on our way, the woman clearly nourished and uplifted: a small miracle of human origin.
I was stunned at mom’s uncharacteristic behavior, and since then have drawn from it deep inspiration. Just a few weeks before dying at age 97 she was growing and changing.
At the end of life, another season of miracles.
May you be blessed to see the miracles around you, and to enact your own.