The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize. A blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
So I want to talk to you about the wedding at Cana - Jesus was there for some reason, and when they ran out of wine, Jesus made more. This is an incredible thing with lots of deep symbolism, but I don’t want to talk about how extraordinary it was…
I want to talk about how ordinary it is. I want to talk about miracles from the other side – not parting the red sea so everyone can walk on the floor of the ocean, but simple miracles, easy miracles, everyday miracles.
And there is a reason for us to think about the miraculous – Think of it as the old glass half full conundrum. I think far too many of us see the glass as half empty – we focus on the negatives and in doing so we get stuck in desolation, stuck in darkness, stuck in the depressing aspect of life and fail to see the everyday miracles around us…
The other day Ali showed me a picture of two girls in a windstorm – one was looking away from the wind with her hands up over her face and clearly looking annoyed… The other was turning into the wind and pretending to be flying, with a huge smile. The caption at the bottom of the picture said the only difference is attitude.
AROUND US EVERY DAY
I mean, think about it, just the fact that you are alive is a miracle! Of all the millions of possible gene combinations, you came out. The timing was right, you have the right number of chromosomes, your mother was able to carry and nurture you for 9 months. All the conditions have to be just right for someone to be born. Being you and being alive is truly miraculous.
But just look around - The sun comes up and the moon comes out. The earth spins on its axis and we have a brand new day every 24 hours. The seasons change, no matter where you live on the earth we see the same moon, there is music… So many things that are amazing which surround us every day.
I know it is weird, but I always think the way a body works is a miracle. The heart pumping blood, the way we process oxygen, the fact that our brain makes up ideas….
And what about oceans, tides, snowfall killing blackflies, the way trees breathe in carbon dioxide which is poisonous for us, and breathe out oxygen which we breath – while we breathe out carbon dioxide for the trees?
I wonder if we go through life ignoring the small miracles – the moments that bring exceptional beauty or grace, or love into the world?
There is a commercial for life insurance from Thailand. It is called Unsung Hero and it is very moving. I will post it up on Facebook or you can google it to watch it… but here is what you see – there is a young man who seems like he lives alone who wakes up, walks to work, eats lunch, comes home, goes to bed. Every day… every day the same.
He sees a dead plant near some water that is dripping from a pipe so he moves it over, he sees a lady who cannot lift her food cart over the curb so he helps here, he sees a homeless dog so he feeds it some chicken, he sees a woman and her daughter begging so he gives them some spare change, and he sees an old lady alone in his apartment building and he leaves her some bananas.
Every day… every day the same.
Until – one day – the plant blossoms with flowers, the lady with the food cart starts giving away food to poor people, the homeless dog follows him home, the begging little girl finally has enough money to start school and the old woman gives him a hug..
Every day miracles – simple things that change the world – that move us one step on the journey from desolation to delight.
WE NEED THIS
We all need this, you know, we all need to find those miracle which move us from one place to the next and help us to see the world for what it is, a thing of beauty and wonder.
I mean, there are the extreme things too which seem miraculous. A story on Oprah Winfrey was told about Lareece Butler, who was brave enough to try skydiving for the first time only to jump out of the plane with a faulty parachute. She escaped a free fall of 3,000 feet with only a broken leg, a fractured pelvis, and a concussion. As Butler plummeted, the chute's ropes twisted around her. She later told reporters she had prayed, God save me, please; I have a son, but could recall nothing else until she woke up in the hospital, surrounded by her amazed and grateful family.
Now, I am not trying to suggest prayer was what caused her to survive – it was just luck. But it is a miracle nonetheless, and we hear stories about miraculous things like this every day, a house fire where everyone lives, a dog who barks and warns of an upcoming tornado… these are the more obvious things…
But again – back to the simple….
Jesus was at a party and they ran out of wine – he pointed out that there was plenty of wine in the barrels over there by the wall… now people had checked, and those barrels were filled with water; but now they were filled with wine.
It is not a stunning miracle, it is not even an obvious miracle, someone might have moved the barrels, or they just assumed it was water when it was really wine all along – who knows.
But the message beneath the surface is – don’t give up on life. Don’t expect the negative. Don’t accept that things have to go wrong. There is always a solution. There is always a better way to see it. There is always a way forward. After every rain shower the sun comes out.
Thousands of years ago Isaiah said to the people, it will not always be like this, you have to see that God is at work all around you making things better. Beauty, love, peace, they have a way of rising up from the ashes all around us.
And if we are looking for the miracles, if we are expecting the good, then we will find that life is filled with them. So let us celebrate that we have a god in whom all things are possible. We have a god who changes the ordinary into the extraordinary, who changes water into wine, who changes desolation into delight. May our eyes be open to the miracles surrounding us this day.