Monday, January 30, 2012

"Miracle." Pronunciation: ˈmɪrəkl(ə).

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online--because the library is not yet open and I therefore cannot get to a trusty hardbacked multiple-volume OED--a miracle (the noun) is:

  1.  an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency,
  2.  a remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences,
  3.  industries at the heart of the economic miraclean exceptional product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.
I've always thought of a miracle as something divinely unusual. The kind of thing that doesn't happen very often, and when that thing does happen, it shocks the hell out of you. In a good way of course, but isn't that oh so terribly relative?

Several things occur to me in this vein...

Krakatoa, Indonesia, 1883.
Image courtesy of:
1.) Is this not a miracle?

In 1883, Krakatoa, pictured above, erupted. Erupted big. Big and bad and scary. The blast was heard more than 3,000 miles away. That means someone in, say, southern India, calmly sipping their chai, or perhaps Northern Australia Crocodile Dundee type waving off the dingos, suddenly broke off their conversation to turn one way and then another, and asked their companion, "What was that?"

That was a series of volcanic eruptions that lasted two days straight, sank approximately 2/3 of an island, killed more than 34,000 people, and gave birth not only to a massive tsunami but also Anak Krakatoa, a whole new island, when all was said and done.

I ask again:  Is this not a miracle?

So much death and destruction, and yet during such an event a new earth is being created. An entirely new volcano, and probably thousands of miles away, beaches colored with newly-made sand, fantastic cloud formations, etc., etc., etc. In geographic time, what is two days worth, for creation? Nothing; zilch, zip, nada. It is a blink, two days, or less. In that blink, the earth was thrown up into the atmosphere, and reformed into a new image. In geographic time, what is the destruction of 34,000-plus humans, countless flora, fauna and etc.? Nothing. Zilch, zip, nada.

A blink is all it takes. What happens on a microcosmic scale every time you blink your eyes? A volcanic eruption on the scale of a roly-poly?  I do not know the scientific name of this bug, but it is the gray-brown one that looks armoured, and rolls into a ball the size of a pencil eraser when you poke it with a finger. I hope you understand...

Onto my next point...

2.) Is a miracle not paradoxical?

Are we not, in many spiritual views at least, expected--or at least encouraged--to be able to discern the hand of the Divine in everything?  If every time I blink there is a miracle occurring for a roly-poly, and every time God blinks, a miracle occurs for a human (let us pretend, for argument's sake, that God not only has eyelids and eyeballs but also needs to close those eyelids to dampen those eyeballs. I do not prescribe to this, and doubt many of you do either. Or do you? Well? Thoughts?), then does that not mean miracles occur constantly, at every moment, before every eye, in every crack and ripple that spreads across the world?

Probably? Possibly? What about the things most of us perceive as awful?

Does all this make miracles non-existent, or especially badass?

 3.) I once read a Zen koan somewhere that went, basically, "Would you rather be blind, deaf and dumb, or win a million dollars?"

(Sorry if I butchered that.)

What does this mean?

It feels like the same exact line of questioning somehow, doesn't it? Is there a miracle worth having in being blind, deaf and dumb, a miracle that far, far outweighs a million dollars? Given the economic state of things, I fear this is a tough nut to crack. How many scholars must have sat meditating on this? Or am I just missing the point?

What would walking barefoot on a beach formed with freshly-made volcanic sand feel like to one who was blind, deaf and dumb? I assume such a beach would be very dark in color, perhaps near black, and that it would sting the soles of the feet. How incredibly alive must the nerve endings be in one who was missing two of the main senses? What would it smell like? Taste like? Acrid and fresh at the same time, like good rich coffee? And how would that person express it? By drawing, perhaps? By gesture and facial expression? Or would that person cup the sensation close, like a jar with a lightning bug in the middle of a summer night, hugging it to the heart and blocking the glass with cradling arms, so that the only one who would possibly be able to discern that blinking light would be the one who had captured the lightning bug? Can we keep such things to ourselves? Or do these things, these tiny personal miracles, die like lightning bugs tend to do when captured in a jar, from fear and exhaustion and hunger?


I could go on like this for days. Perhaps two. I am assigning two days to be the length of a god blink. Rather than continue though, I will stop and leave some meandering to you, lest I miss something extraordinary and attributed to divine agency, or get captured in a god-sized jar.

 So? Miracles? What say you?


  1. This is why I think it's silly when people say that human life, birth, etc., is a miracle. It's uh, explicable with science so...yeah, no. ;)

  2. Right?

    Though for me I think it depends on my mood--sometimes I get pretty blase about life, lol, birth, and etc., and sometimes I go all hippy-chick and can't stop seeing the fantastical side of it all (ha!).