Over the years, I’ve collected quotes – I have notebooks, journals, and many files on my computer with all sorts of quotes categorized by topic and by the names of the people who said the words.
There’s this funny thing about my connection to quotes, though. Even with my interest and commitment to collecting them, I’m terrible at correctly reciting them. I notice some people do it very well. I jumble the words, misquote people, and can’t remember where the words came from in the first place.
Except for a handful of quotes – these are the words that have become guiding principles in my life – and they are easy to remember because they have become so much a part of my worldview. I see them all the time.
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Albert Einstein:
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle;
you can live as if everything is a miracle.
To me, everything is a miracle. It is all so improbable – that even with our petty concerns and irrational fears and ridiculous violence and life-altering misunderstandings – we are still here, loving each other. It is a miracle of humanity that we forge forward ever seeking and unwilling to give up on each other.
I was raised a Christian, baptized in the Episcopal Church and attended Episcopal school from kindergarten through graduation. Christmas was a big deal in my childhood home – and a meaningful time of celebration in my community. Boyd and I have made Christmas important in our family now.
Because it’s a big deal to believe in miracles.
For Christians, the miracle of Christmas is that Jesus was born – and his life and message became an expression of God’s love for the world. Christmas is about love, all kinds of love – and it is especially about the love we can feel, both personally and at large, when we believe in divine intervention. This is at the heart of Christmas – God got involved. The world needed more love, so God created a man – partly divine and partly human, who was up for the task of teaching love. A miracle of leadership.
When we believe in Christmas, from this perspective, we believe in a force for good – call it God or Divine Consciousness or call it by any name – this force is willing to get creative and act out of love and mercy to influence some remarkably positive outcomes.
Now, when I was a child, I don’t remember caring so much about the Jesus part, I just knew that when I walked downstairs and saw things like a bike, a dollhouse, two kittens, a jam box – well, to me, that was a miracle. Some supernatural magical mystical force made those gifts possible and I felt grateful.
Miracles ignite gratitude – our hearts burst in light, a firework of hope.
I was talking to my friend Phyllis earlier this month about miracles.
I asked Phyllis what Hanukah means to her – we were sitting at a table with some other moms and the conversation was shifting away from the war between Israel and Hamas and moving towards holiday plans for our families.
“For me,” Phyllis says, “Hanukah is about miracles. It’s the miracle of light. There wasn’t enough oil to keep the fire going but somehow, the flame burned for eight days – and the people survived….that’s a miracle.”
“Do you believe in miracles?” I ask Phyllis.
Phyllis and I have known each other since our daughters were five years old. Becca, Phyllis’ daughter, Ryan and Mimi are best friends, and Phyllis has been one of the moms who has loved my girls alongside me all of these years.
I expect her to answer with the adamant “Yes” that she then says to me. “Having children is a miracle and…..”
“That car accident,” I interject. “I remember when you told me about that….”
“Absolutely a miracle,” Phyllis states.
Six years ago, Phyllis was driving on the 405 with a mom friend in the passenger seat and all of their children in the back. There were six people in the car. A driver lost control of her vehicle as she was entering the interstate and crossed four lanes without hitting any other cars and ended up t-boning Phyllis’ car. Somehow that vehicle shot back after colliding with Phyllis’ car, crossed four lanes of traffic again, hitting no other car, and finally lost momentum on the side of the road. Phyllis’ car completely stopped in the crash – they didn’t skid, they didn’t flip, they didn’t spin, all of the cars on the 405 behind them stopped.
“It was like we were in a bubble,” Phyllis recalls. “All six airbags opened. The windshield was cracked. And, you know, you’re not supposed to get out of the car but I was in shock and Aaron [Phyllis’ son who was 15 at the time] took charge and told me to get out. He said I got you, let’s go, and we all got out….and we just walked across the 405 at 9 PM at night like it was nothing. Every car stopped, just your average driver, no one was directing them to stop, no one was helping us to cross, they all stopped. The entire freeway was still. It was like Moses parting the red sea.”
A miracle, indeed.
A miracle of cooperation. A miracle of protection. A miracle, as they all are, of love.
I called Phyllis last night. It has been two weeks since our conversation about miracles and light. “Hey, I’m thinking about miracles for my 31 Days of Gratitude writing. Can I share the story of your car accident?”
“Of course!” she says.
“I’m pretty clear about the details,” I tell her, “…just remind me again, when did it happen?”
Phyllis chuckles, “On Christmas Eve.”
There are two ways to live. You don’t have to pick the second way, but when you do – get ready, that heart of yours is going to boom with the most spectacular light of hope.
DAY 24 Reflection Questions
*Do you believe in miracles?
*Have you experienced a miracle firsthand? If so, talk about it with someone you love today. Reconnect with the power of divine intervention and feel again the presence of Love that is quite possibly always a part of your life.
*For those of you engaging in holiday rituals today, what is the miracle of Christmas for you? What is the miracle of any faith system you practice and/or believe?