The Miracle of Others

Maria - Corvallis, Oregon
Entered on December 1, 2008

I believe that our lives on this planet are interconnected, in the sense that we are all here, sharing the experience of living. To me, the way we help and understand each other is what gives life its meaning. There are so many people in the world, that the people that one encounters in their lifetime are a kind of miracle themselves. There are some people that I have met that I feel a sense of awe about, and that feeling makes me wonder who else is out there in the world, will I meet them, and what will l learn from them if I do?

I think that as a teacher I have a unique opportunity to connect to others. Often the roles change and children become my teachers. From students I have seen what resilience is. To see a child who has lived through a violent or desolate kind of life, and then gone on to be the intelligent and kind person that they are, well I cannot find words to describe how this makes me feel. I have seen parents who have turned their lives around for their children, and I have worked with adults who see hope in children that most would give up on.

Sometimes you find that the person who is most amazing has been right near you all along, and it takes seeing them through the eyes of someone else to realize it. My dad is a person like this, and though I used to consider him a regular, if not absent minded dad, I now know that his accomplishments are of a different kind.

One night when I was about eight, on Christmas Eve, my dad left after our family dinner to go to the hospital to check on a patient. While I played and waited for him to get home, this patient received her only visitor during her stay. Later, when I was about seventeen, I got a letter from this woman who was then in her 80’s. She described a night when she had been admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve with pneumonia, her husband had died and her children were far away and she expected to be alone. My dad arrived that night with a Christmas bouquet from the hospital gift shop, and his visit. I have since seen his quiet , calm compassion for others many times: at the bed side of someone who is dying, talking with someone who is desolate, loving me unconditionally when I felt of little worth. It takes courage, I have learned from my dad, to have enough faith in and acceptance of others that you will support them. This is the way in which my dad connects to others, and makes life meaningful around him.

From others I have seen great kindness, humor, a life shaped by terror, and the desire to help others and change the world. They have just begun to teach me what it means to be alive.