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…