I was doing a little research about wisdom and imagination when I ran headlong into a quote by Einstein.
“There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
Well . . . dang! No middle ground? No option for a sometimes yes and a sometimes not so much? Dichotomy thinking is uncomfortable for me. I’m a metaphor, figurative language gal rather than one who deals easily in literal, black/white terms. But this quote took me literally into miracle thinking.
A miracle event is difficult to characterize—a little like grace, in that you personally recognize and identify it, or you don’t. So, I developed a brief list where a synonym could serve as a way to describe miracle—like a marvel or revelation, a wonder or divine gift—and make it easier to talk about.
Eventually, I found myself in six different conversations where I introduced Einstein’s quote. Lots of head scratching and contemplating ensued. It soon became abundantly clear that miracle encounters are individual and deeply personal. These conversations turned my literal question into answers with figurative language and examples. Each person could identify more than one difficult event they would never name miraculous. Miracles exist, but to identify them, we have to “believe and see” their positive and clear connections to our lives.
During these conversations I tried to reconcile how, literally, Matt’s untimely death could be a miracle. You see . . . I keep trying to figure out how to be that person—the one who can live her life as if everything, even within grief, can seem part of a miracle.
Though I’m grateful for friends’ different perspectives, I had to finally go to the source. Sitting alone, leaning back, eyes closed, feet up, I quietly asked the question, “Was your death a miracle?”, and waited. I felt his answer: “No. It was a human, physical health imperative.” No miracle. And, I cried. But, then I began to open to a wider view of other miracles. . . that we had time to live and love as mother and son; that, in grace, we’re still connected.
Then I got up to write this.
Maybe Einstein means I’m to see my life through a longer lens, with open eyes and heart, to trust the energy of a loving universe in action. Do events ever occur in a vacuum? Won’t there always be happenings well beyond my human understanding? I do embrace that each of my days is part of the evolving arc of my life, and that both literal and metaphorical miracles travel that arc with me. Some inexplicable, even despairing events might just be wrapped within miracles, only to be unwrapped down the road.
Fredrik Backman in “Anxious People” writes about how vast, brave and unchartered human understanding can be: “We plant an apple tree today, even if we know the world is going to be destroyed tomorrow.”
Our planting, regardless of bad timing and the waiting and watching for the growth of something beautifully alive are miracles wrapped in perseverance, hope, courage and belief. Opening our eyes to discover that the world remained as we slept . . . another miracle.
And, lest we forget, we, too, are miracles, made to enter and serve, in love, the lives of others.