I believe in miracles. I used to think that miracles were only dramatic visitations of a deity, prompting pilgrims to visit a sacred shrine in response to or in anticipation of answered prayers. But miracles are more than visions. They are part of the every day. Maybe that’s why we miss them.
Following the uproar and sadness of the September 11 attacks, my husband, Ray, was diagnosed with lymphoma. After his surgery, the doctor assured me that although everything looked good, this slow-growing kind of cancer could return at some point in the future.
At about the same time, I was promoted to head the English Department at school. As the year progressed, however, the school committee began to reconsider the need for such supervisory positions. By the same time the following year, those reconsiderations galvanized into a decision to cut those jobs. If I wanted to return to the classroom full-time, I would have to make my decision to do so before the year ended.
As conflicted as I was about what I should do, I had an even more urgent concern to face: Ray’s yearly CT scan showed “something,” possibly a recurrence of the cancer. The only recourse I could think of was prayer. I prayed to Jesus and Mary to free Ray from cancer and to help me make a sensible job decision.
My anguish seemed to last for weeks. As I waited with Ray at his follow-up visit to the radiologist, I still couldn’t decide what to do about my job: stay in it and risk being out of a job completely if there were no teaching positions vacant that I could fill or resign now and go back to the classroom.
One day, as I walked my weekly three-mile stint at the local college gym, I felt different, unburdened. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was “wrong.” Then I realized that I wasn’t worried anymore. Miraculously, the weight and the anguish were gone. And even more amazing, no matter how hard I tried to recall my anguish, I couldn’t. How did that happen? I will remember that moment forever. I think that day’s mile walk was one of the happiest I’d ever taken.
The radiologist examined Ray, consulted with the surgeon, and cleared Ray of any doubt that the cancer had returned. A shadow, not a tumor, obscured the area and caused the concern. Before the school year ended, the school committee, by one vote, decided to retain the supervisors’ positions.
So I believe in miracles. I believe in the extraordinariness of the ordinary, of the times that we think our conflicts are insurmountable, but we prevail. Miracles happen to those who later become saints, certainly; but they happen to the rest of us too. We only need to be aware of just how much a part of our lives they are.
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