What Is a Miracle?

comments 39
Course Ideas / Reflections

Our dear friend Hariod asked me after my last post what the word miracle means to me, and as I thought about how to answer I realized my response would very quickly get out of hand in the post commentary.  Hence this post.  It’s a question I savor answering because I don’t quite know how I’m going to do it.  I have a feeling about what I wish to say, but the closer I get to the center of it, the more delicious the dead reckoning becomes.  It’s a bit like holding a black hole in your hand and attempting to point out its properties with a laser pointer, then seeing something interesting– what the–? and peering closer, then closer, then falling in…

The word miracle has come to occupy a similar place within my psyche as the word God.  They’re both so muddled by the baggage of variegated usage, fundamentalist distortion and over-simplification so as to be quite meaningless as terms that stand on their own.  We use these terms at our own risk.  Yet the ideas, heartfelt sensations and whispers of knowing that these terms represent to me are utterly enmeshed in the arising of my experience.  What I am cannot be pulled apart from those inner lights.  The words can certainly be taken from me– retired in a bank vault, or appropriated and defiled by harsh doctrines and talking heads– but the realities to which they point are all I have now.

The word miracle for instance often conjures images of the supernatural.  Walking on water.  Feeding multitudes of people from a few baskets of bread and fish.  Raising things from the dead.  (Usually mammals.  Very few fence post resurrections in the literature, for instance.)  And so on and so forth.  I know these examples are culturally myopic and that other cultures have plentiful examples as well.  A book I enjoyed very much when I read it a number of years ago was The Way of the White Clouds.  The author tells a story therein of leaping very long distances from boulder to boulder up in the mountains, as if skipping lightly across the sky.  It conjured a very Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon image in my mind.  (Refer to video below.)  And then there’s always Crazy Horse shaking the soldiers’ bullets from his bone vest periodically in a sacred pre-enactment of Kevlar.  (Makes you wonder if Kevlar is taking the long way ’round.)  The word miracle can loosely be applied to all of these phenomena.

But I don’t think these are the essence of miracles.  I think these images that burn into our minds are the outward representations of what the miracle truly is.  I think miracles are invisible.  I think they are a restructuring of one’s mind and heart.  They are an instantaneous shifting of one’s patterns of thought and knowing that yield an opening, an expansion, an inversion, a piercing of boundaries, an inrush of clarity.  They are miraculous because they provide an avenue of understanding that previously didn’t exist, or seem available.  It couldn’t be chosen because it couldn’t be seen.  It laid outside of history, outside of previous experience, and thus outside of one’s vocabulary of possibility.  Miracles insert letters into the alphabets we use, and words into our languages.  They add colors to our palettes.  They turn us inside out, and render entire epochs of time moot because of what they bring forth within us.

I think the outward, phenomenal representations described above arise because the essence of who we are is coupled to the entire field of form in ways we have yet to fully grasp.  A miracle isn’t the product of one, isolated personal will magically commanding matter to comply with its desires, or even a field of individual wills aligning.   It is a flash bulb pulse in the invisible, a hidden strike of lightning that reveals and mobilizes unity.  In unity there are no play-books or scripts, no schemes or planning, no parts to be played, nothing that could go wrong.  There’s just a line that crackles in a zig-zag pattern through eternity, yielding exactly what’s needed.  A fish.  A restructuring of time and space.  A buoyancy.  The result needn’t be considered supernatural.  It’s just that more of what is natural became available for an instant.  In unity, we couple with the world in ways we cannot predictably understand.

I’ve been thinking of these words more and more lately– the ones I can’t explain– because as I said, they’re all I have now.    I know the difficulties we share in this world cannot be healed by invention and technology, by policy or debate, by legal or military action, or by ethical arguments.  The hidden roots of the world arising around us must be nourished– the roots that extend deeply into our minds, and are caught in the ferment of our pasts, our fears, our guilt, and our judgments.  The miracle is needed because we can’t see beyond our own conclusions.  We can’t see what is possible outside of our own constructions, projections and hand-drawn boundaries.  We can’t figure this out on our own.  We fabricate the boundaries of the possible in ways we can’t understand, and become trapped by our own rules.  The miracle is the gift that pierces the false screen of our minds, and shows what lies beyond.  It is the gift of insight.  It is the surge of recognition and potency that will remake the world.

Miracles are natural, and all around us.  Thank God…

39 Comments

  1. Beautiful perspective on miracles and what might be needed to transform our world. Cracks in the fabric of our isolated views, allowing the miracles of love and unity to build anew. I’m willing to play along. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Brad. Willingness is the key, my friend! Just being willing to discover we didn’t have an air tight case to back up our miseries, our bitterness and our suffering is enough to let Hafiz the Trial Attorney and Expert Witness to Transitory Phenomena to score a few points with the jury of our hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. footloosedon says

    A brilliant exposition on the true nature of miracles. The world is always on the brink of disaster, but some unexpected and unanticipated events always occur to save the day. I’m reminded of the following lines from the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’:

    Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
    Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
    Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
    Hugh Fennyman: How?
    Philip Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

    Mystery or miracle, there’s always something that manifests when it’s needed.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Don,

      I saw this movie once long ago, but don’t remember hardly any specifics. I love this quote, and you’ve hit the nail on the head for me. Acting in ways we feel called to act, and trusting the mystery and the unexpected seem to be sublime combination. We see this so often we have no idea what we’re looking at. And sometimes our expectations regarding outcome are so strong we miss the fact that a situation or circumstance was nudged just slightly, and avoided a whole mess of difficulties we never even saw…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The best feeling in the world is when a miracle occurs and you see it then and there. I am saddened by the occurences of a miracle happening and not realizing until too far down the path of our roads, in the rearview mirror we say to ourselves “Come, let’s go back and see it” but it’s not the same when we return to the scene as the magic is in the realization of what it is, the thanks given for these gifts and the open heart feeling that rises above itself as it happens. Whether through nature, music, or words spoken or even sometimes the design of a single snowfall that falls gently onto our eyelashes and we laugh as it melts and becomes one with our tears of a joy that comes over us so unexpectedly. The magic of miracles, my friend you’ve said it beautifully, as we all knew you would. Kudos dear Michael, kudos.
    Always,
    K

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Kim! You bring up an interesting point, about looking back. Sometimes what I realize is that looking back in the right way affords a new interpretation of what was, and if I look softly and allow the miracle to come, it is my present which changes entirely in that lightning instant, as well as my interpretation of what has been. It’s like the lightning bolt moves both vertically and horizontally– through history and widely through the present. When it strikes, it’s all the present it seems, if that makes any sense.

      I know what you mean though about not realizing something at the time. There are moments when we look back and realize maybe we didn’t recognize our cue, or that we missed an opportunity to connect more deeply with another person or an opportunity that presented itself. Is that what you mean?

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I get it, totally, Michael. In fact, you could have left your response to me as a comment in the last post, as least as one which would have satisfied my own curiosity; that is, just this:

    “I think they are a restructuring of one’s mind and heart. They are an instantaneous shifting of one’s patterns of thought and knowing that yield an opening, an expansion, an inversion, a piercing of boundaries, an inrush of clarity.” And as you say in closing your piece, “it is the gift of insight”.

    Jiddu Krishnamurti always used to bang on about how thought is always rooted in the past, in the old, in what is already known. And his namesake, the rather tempestuous U.G. Krishnamurti wrote a book called Thought is your Enemy – somewhat extreme an idea, but you get his drift I daresay.

    I sense something of a cultural distancing here, and in England, words like ‘God’ and ‘Miracle’ are generally outside the bounds of public discourse, not only for the reasons you suggest in your fine article, but there also is almost a political incorrectness about them here – Tony Blair was forbidden from mentioning God by his Press Officer – or perhaps better to say they are perceived as terms from a past now all but forgotten, as we bow (because everyone else is) before the altar of Scientism and Rationalism.

    Perhaps your ‘miracles’ also at times embrace those things we more prosaically call ‘intuitions’. Then again, when we intuit something, the same could have been arrived at through plodding internal verbalisations – what we call ‘thinking’ – and I tend to regard intuition simply as thought operating at the speed of light. True insights, or ‘miracles’ as you call them, have no series of dots connecting us to them. Perhaps it’s a little like appearing in two places simultaneously (particle and wave?), and the rational mind ‘here’ sees also the intuited ‘there’? [Not that there is a ‘here’ or ‘there’ in awareness; this is just an analogy.]

    It seems this sort of thing can be cultivated with a tranquil and strongly focused mind – prayer, mediation, or whatever.

    Thankyou Michael; I really appreciate you taking up what appears to have been the challenge of an innocent question.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Liked your reference to thoughts as past. I can’t remember where I was reading this, but they were talking about all experience, all thought as past tense. That if you approach a road rotary you enter it, drive through it and exit entirely off of all of your previous experiences about driving in general, rotaries, that car and so forth. That we are always interpreting the world through this past tense filter.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Hariod.

      I tend not to think that thought itself is the problem, but moreso that we spend too much time being in charge of the thinking. I think of those flashes of insight like Tesla received, or Watson and Crick, or countless other composers, artists, inventors and scientists as being closer to the true nature of thought.

      I very much like your notion of intuition being thought operating at the speed of light. That feeling involves the sensation of unity for me. It’s like our localized consciousness is plodding along, and then wham! the skies open up, and we are dipped into a sea of knowing. I suppose we could have gotten there by plodding along, but I’m not certain of that in every case. There seems to be an element of inserting new ideas or information into the scene when these flashes occur. I may be describing more of what we call inspiration. But either way, I agree we can place ourselves in states more or less conducive to being “struck”…

      In A Course in Miracles, Jesus says the purpose of the miracle is to save time. And this seems to resonate quite nicely with the thoughts you’ve shared here.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. walked on water the other day 😉 at elk island park…a miracle for me is a grateful surprise…always appreciate your words…they create images and sounds for me…compose a happy week Michael 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Beautiful post, Michael. The inner restructuring of heart and mind precedes the outer manifestation of events, which may or may not be something which the thinking mind can explain.
    I wish you many lovely miracle situations,
    Karin

    Liked by 3 people

    • HI Karin, I agree. I think there is absolutely a link between the inner and the outer, though it is inscrutable in its operation– at least to the thinking mind. That makes it sound as if it isn’t there at all, but you have those moments… when you catch a glimpse of it smiling at you, or winking in a way that brightens an otherwise dark place…

      Wishing you an ongoing stream of good things as well,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. They are an instantaneous shifting of one’s patterns of thought and knowing that yield an opening, an expansion, an inversion, a piercing of boundaries, an inrush of clarity. They are miraculous because they provide an avenue of understanding that previously didn’t exist, or seem available. It couldn’t be chosen because it couldn’t be seen. It laid outside of history, outside of previous experience, and thus outside of one’s vocabulary of possibility. Miracles insert letters into the alphabets we use, and words into our languages. They add colors to our palettes. They turn us inside out, and render entire epochs of time moot because of what they bring forth within us.

    YES!!! 🙂 🙂

    To those of use born before the 1990s, the Internet could be considered a miracle manifest. How else would I be talking with you here? A shift was necessary to birth it into being.

    To more miracles…

    love,
    Linda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Linda,

      I agree. The Internet has become something quite amazing. I think these things are miraculous in their own right, but in reading this I realize I tend to think of miracles as being moments of inner transformation that relate to healing, and then these tangible offshoots like the internet, or scientific discoveries, as the being product of inspiration? Are they different? I don’t know… Probably not ultimately. But I’m not sure… I think we can be inspired creatively at times– that the universe will answer our questions– but not always with an attending insight that directly corrects a misperception. At a high level, technology changes do not always reflect an accrual of wisdom. That’s why I’m not sure… It’s a great question for which I don’t have the answer, so I probably shouldn’t have posed it. Ha!

      Sometimes distinctions blur the fact that we are simply immersed in connection and unity. When we access it, it is delicious. Profound. And healing. No distinctions required…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I’m going to reply anyway, Tiramit. I loved your phrase velocity of wordage… I’m glad you responded, even if to say this piece zoomed through you like a neutrino through an underground tank of water. Something happened. Does it matter we cannot tell what it was!?

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  8. “…a restructuring of one’s mind and heart” Your words are a much-needed affirmation, Michael. I’ve spontaneously experienced such a shift and it is much more awe-inspiring than walking on water.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Julie. Yes, the inner experience of it is really quite amazing. There are not really good words to describe it– the way it feels to spontaneously make contact with a new way of having experiences. It is unprecedented. I’m glad the words lent their weight to your experiences…

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  9. Michael, you are thinking of running up walls and skipping the clouds, I am thinking of Mary Poppins, rooftop dancing and riding carousel horses. 🙂
    But seriously, these are wonderful expressions. I had to read them over and over again. I liked where you said “It’s just that more of what is natural became available for an instant.” I think of a seed sprouting in the spring. It is one of the greatest miracles. No matter how science tries to explain why one seed will sprout and one will not, the conditions this or that, just the natural potential is already a miracle. Or maybe a pre-miracle. And then, boom, the inhibitions, the limitations are removed, and it happens.
    I so appreciate you pointing out the miraculous nature of the natural state.
    Enjoy yet another miraculous week. 🙂
    Kristina

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Kristina,

      There are many ways to skip across the skies… 🙂

      And I agree: the most profound is all around us, little-by-little doing what comes natural to it. But when we look closely, we see it is peppered with genius and magic. It’s good to keep in mind what nature teaches us about the entire cycle of maturity and growth– the way it builds, as you say, for seasons of silence, and then suddenly becomes potent and manifest. Too often we stop something too soon, and miss the glories that were incubating in our lives.

      I wish you a miraculous week as well. Thank you so much for visiting, reading and sharing.

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Melissa,

      That’s it! The rush of recognition. The cosmic hot potato that landed in your mind and caused you to get off the sofa and start hopping around the room spinning off ideas. The wisp of understanding that brushes the heart, and settles everything down.

      The sudden desire to paint…! 🙂

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    So, I thought I had some things to say about this, so took the pen from my coffee table and an unopened envelope, and started writing and realized I had pretty much quoted your whole piece as sentences that I liked. Haha! So I guess all I will say is – I loved every word.
    Loving Miracles
    Mary

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha, indeed, Mary! I love that you followed along so closely… and shared in this experience of the miraculous. There is a memory of myself from fourth grade that I can always count on for a good self-effacing laugh. We were learning how to write reports, and how to do research, and so we were writing articles based on encyclopedia articles, books, short film strips in the library, etc. I somehow chose the topic of Japan, and I basically copied 99% of the World Book entry onto paper. It was like like forty hand-written pages or something. I remember sitting there looking at each sentence, trying to apply what we were learning about paraphrasing and quoting sources… how you only need to take the most important ideas. But every sentence I read seemed so important! So I wrote it down, and then read the next one… Yup! Can’t leave that fact out!

      It actually is a pretty profound teaching… I’m reminded of what Jesus says in A Course of Love about how nothing can be missing from the Universe. It can’t be what it is, without every last piece in its place. You just can’t paraphrase Love’s expressions!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

  11. Loved this piece, Michael, especially the reference to alignment, as I think that is all a miracle is. Not something fantastical, but actually the natural result of us lining our thoughts, feelings and beliefs up with our highest self. In that alignment, things that seem complicated really aren’t. I thought of this often with my mother’s cooking. I grew up quite poor, one of seven children during the recession of the 70’s. How my mother fed five boys and two girls has always been a miracle to me. We used to call it her fishes and loaves trick. Somehow her love for us made everything she cooked go that much farther. Something about how we all felt about being together as a family made the food that seemed sparse in the grocery bags fill our bellies.

    I work in cancer treatment and the one thing I’ve always noted is those who have what other’s consider a miraculous recovery were people not focused on healing their cancer, but rather on being in love with each moment of the life they believed they still had. Those that were simply milking life for what it had to give them today. Those that would only settle for a full remission of their cancer as the only miracle they were seeking, remained constantly afraid and confused. They didn’t see the little miracles presenting themselves and each moment was one of fear, rather than just embracing the joy of being alive at all.

    Miracles to me are the natural outcome of aligning ourselves with love. Love without, love in the Universe, love for ourselves, just love wherever we can find it.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Noelle,

      It is amazing how love can stretch what’s available, with ease… I admire you for doing the work that you do, and appreciate very much the observations you shared. I particularly liked your observation that those unwilling to settle for anything but the full miracle cure often remained afraid and confused. I see this as happening to so many of us all day long– if we cannot find a way to become comfortable to the lives we have. If we keep thinking there’s something more that we don’t have access to right now, then confusion is certain to follow…

      Delighting in this alignment we’re sharing in together here. Love wherever we can find it, until we realize there’s nowhere it’s not…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I like that – a restructuring of one’s heart and mind. That’s truly a miracle.
    These miracles we can experience every day, cultivating in us a mindfulness and heartfulness.
    Leave it to dear Hariod to expand a conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, VP. Yes, well, in this case I think I was the one who expanded the conversation! Your comment does give me the feeling of being in good company… 🙂 Miracles do cultivate that unison of heart and mind. That’s a wonderful point, for I think that they must work together for the most authentic beauty and presence to emerge in us…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I sure have missed the gift of your writing. Glad to be finally catching up a bit. I love the hopeful way you ended this, and the hope woven throughout.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, JoAnna. Miracles certainly seem good cause for hope. Or more to the point, they bring the memory that everything is already and always will be in a holy state… When we see into it, as it truly is…

      Peace!
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Dear Michael, first of all kudos to Hariod for asking a great question. Miracle isn’t a word I use often and I’ve never explored what my “criteria” was for something to qualify. I love when you write these sort of posts, your exploration of the word is really very elegant – and it seems to facilitate the process where I can do the same. It’s quite amazing where we end up when we start an exploration. I do agree with you, that miracles, are natural, perhaps even organic, and they happen more often than I am aware of – hey are there (and here) and they are real and that is quite a nice moment of awareness. Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Harlon,

      I agree it’s amazing where we end up when we start an exploration. A true exploration leads to these insights and discoveries that make a difference to how we experience ourselves and the world. It is what closemindedness cannot comprehend… I love when an exploration nudges my awareness open a little further. Often in writing a piece like this, I discover the top anew also, and appreciate it in ways I didn’t previously understand…

      Miracles abound!
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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