Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
I’ve often read that the scientific mind and the musical mind are similarly wired. I believe it because I have not been blessed with an understanding of either. I simply don’t speak music or science. I hear music. I enjoy it. But music is background to my life. Ambiance.
The musical mind can deconstruct a piece and understand it as if it were language. It’s the same with the scientific mind, I would guess. They see something and must investigate what makes it work. I feel no need to deconstruct things or examine the gears of the world. I’m not a science guy. I’m a man very comfortable with miracles.
Some say the word “miracle” is overused. Not me. I don’t think it’s used enough. Not nearly.
To me, sunrises and gravity are hardly surprising but miraculous nonetheless. By naming things, we too often believe we own it. It is ours now. Not God’s anymore. We’ve labeled gravity a law. We’ve named radio waves. We too casually classify God’s handiwork as science. But there are miracles all around us.
I know how children are made but that doesn’t make them less miraculous. Acceptance of miracles is a willingness to look past the thing-ness of everything and see God.
One of God’s great gifts to us is reason. But one must also leave room for wonder. I had no idea how present God was until I allowed myself to really see. To feel. To take joy in all the miracles around me.
The most important question, I believe, is whether we’re willing to acknowledge the miracles around us.
Two quick examples: Novelist Emile Zola and Scientist Alexis Carrel.
Carrel was an avowed atheist who received the Nobel Prize in 1912. His work in vascular surgery landed him on the cover of Time Magazine. But Carrel had a secret. He’d witnessed a miracle in Lourdes on May 28, 1902 when he met Marie Bailly, a young woman dying of tuberculosis on her way to Lourdes. Carrel diagnosed the woman himself. But upon having the waters from Lourdes poured on her abdomen Bailly was cured.
Bailly joined the Sisters of Charity and spent her life caring for the sick. But Carrel’s atheistic mindset refused to accept the possibility of a miracle. He was a eugenics theorist with no use for God. In 1935, Carrel even published a best-selling book advocating enforced eugenics that even complimented The Third Reich.
But Carrel couldn’t quite shake what he saw and returned to Lourdes again and again. On another trip to Lourdes Carrel saw an 18 month old child regain his sight.
Finally, after years of running from the miraculous, Carrel finally received the sacraments of the Church and died shortly after.
The French novelist Emile Zola, on the other hand, met a sickly woman at Lourdes who was cured. Zola, however, refused to believe what he’d seen. He chalked it up to psychosomatic illnesses. He wrote about a novel about his experience in Lourdes but in the book the character that the woman who was healed was based on died. Asked why he killed the character in his book even though he knew the woman yet lived, he said, “I don’t believe in miracles. Even if all the sick in Lourdes were cured in one moment I would not believe in them.”
We either see them or we don’t. Miracles are always there however. I saw a miracle in my living room recently. I saw it in a quiet moment when my ten year old, lying on the floor reading a Nancy Drew book, stuck out her hand without even looking up as the two year old crawled to the edge of the couch. The two year old took her sister’s hand without question and eased herself down.
I had to close my eyes it was a gorgeous moment.
And I saw a miracle years ago when my father lay in a hospital bed patting my mother’s hand to comfort her while he suffered a heart attack.
I saw a miracle even today when my seven year old applauded my four year old boy who buckled the baby into her car seat for the first time. As it clicked his eyes widened and he looked to me for approval. And I applauded too. Soon, all the girls and even the baby did too. A bunch of fools clapping in a van is what we were.
Miracles surround us. You don’t even have to look very hard. God wants to be recognized by us. The rest is up to us.