Friday, December 16, 2011

a world of miracles

I don't know about anyone else, but I suspect that they too purely love the miracles that pop up in their lives.

Miracles are the things that, like a good joke, take an improbable turn ... the background story may be as mundane as salt, but the punch line widens the eyes and heart. Walking on water, a corpse brought back to life, a (wo)man who can fly, a single flower in a field of weeds, an irreversible disease that one morning can no longer be found.
Religious and irreligious alike may similarly describe the birth of a child as a miracle ... though they seldom describe or feel death to be likewise miraculous. Miracles defy logic and are yummy. They are lively and strangely nutritious.

My mother once told me that the hardest kind of fiction to write was fantasy. It was hard because the writer, assuming s/he could get past his or her own wide-eyed delight, had to convince not only his or her own convictions, but also convince the reader.

I once gave myself two months to try to write a fantasy about a world in which people could fly, disappear and melt like wax. I was pretty diligent about the effort and wrote for four or five hours every day. At the end of two months, I had a miraculous pile of crap that failed to convince me as once I had been consumed and convinced. Bleah!

The experience of coming up empty did nothing to inform or rein in my habit of enjoying and, when possible, wallowing in, the miraculous. It was just too delicious.

Today it crossed my quip-mangling mind, "If a miracle falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make any sound?" Is a miracle any longer a miracle where there is no one to say "miracle?"

I can see the appeal of running into experiences that widen the heart and mind. Wider is better. Wide, wider, widest. Narrowness constricts like a control-freak. Wide is forced to let go ... and breathe. What a miracle! What an ahhhhhh!

I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade. Miracles are truly wonderful. But holding onto them as a means of supporting some other-worldly, crowd-controlling belief system (whether personal or institutional) strikes me as counter-productive. What is interesting about miracles is not so much that they separate one thing from the next -- man from God or miraculous from mundane -- as that they suggest a way to bring things together ... things that had never honestly been apart, but I had created an apartness.

Having said that, I can hear the choir going off on some "oneness of all things" hymn. But that's no more useful than positing apartness. So-called "one-ness" is just apartness by another name. Bleah! What is compelling about miracles is the immediacy of wonder, the heart throb, the delight and utter confoundedness.

If a miracle falls in the woods and there is no one there to note it, is it any longer a miracle?

Bending miracles to one's own uses (explanation and belief) is common enough. Look at the number of happy-face books on the spiritual-life shelves in a book store. And even without the help of such books, still it's common to be wowed and magnetized by the punch lines that crop up in life. Wide, wider, widest -- miracles are a good encouragement. But an encouragement for what?

If I had to guess, I guess I would guess that miracles are just life, whispering in the heart and mind and saying, "Of course it's a miracle. What the fuck else did you expect?!"

Who is the miracle worker? Who is the miracle? And when you take a walk in the woods, is there anything honestly surprising about this?

The delight and wideness are true. Imagining there is something untrue is the problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment