This I Believe

Melissa - Rock Island, Illinois
Entered on April 5, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in miracles. I know; I should be ashamed or at least embarrassed. How can one be taken seriously with such a claim? Still, I believe in miracles.

It started in my New York childhood. On the 8th floor of a Brooklyn apartment building I started praying for a horse.

I don’t know why this idea seized me –perhaps it was the twinkle in my dad’s eye when he spoke of his childhood in North Dakota, a boyhood filled with horses, some running wildly across the fields and others harnessed to a rig that pulled my grandfather and dad from chores to church and back again.

Perhaps the dream started because I saw a painting in my maternal grandmother’s home, a painting she copied during her finishing school days of fire horses racing to someone’s rescue.

I don’t know why it started but I began to pray for a horse. My parents were not amused.

At first they ignored it; then my dad confessed,

“We cannot afford a horse!”

“Well,” I replied, “If God can part the Red Sea he can get me a horse!”

“Where would we put it?”

That stumped me for a minute and then I said,

“I’ll pray for a place as well.”

When my prayers would not cease, my mother declared one night:

“Lissa, you are being selfish. Your cousin Lois has polio and walks with a brace. Why don’t you pray for her instead of a horse? Don’t you think that is what God would want you to do?“

I contemplated that request only momentarily before asserting, “I’ll add her to my list!”

Finally the miracle arrived. One day “out of the blue” two old ladies in our church gave us a farm for a song. They wanted their minister to have a summer retreat in the Catskills.

Not long after my dad’s brother called from Pennsylvania. “Doward, I have a proposition for you. I found a horse I want, but the seller insists that I have to take all three of his geldings or none at all. Now if you buy two of them, I will board your horses all winter and when summer arrives I’ll trailer them to your new place.

TWO HORSES! And you won’t believe this: my cousin Lois started walking without braces on her legs.

Now I’m not claiming to be a miracle worker, but something floated up out of that 8th floor sooty window and flew over the sound of sirens going by in the night and soared into the mountains and landed me on the bareback of my very own horse.

I pray for bigger miracles now, peace in the Middle East and serenity as I grieve the death of my parents.

And I pray on my feet as well as my knees. I pray with my fingers when I vote. I pray on the street and in the pew for justice, dignity, and equality for us all. Maybe if I keep praying on my knees and on my feet I will be able to transcend what’s reasonable to expect like “You can’t have a horse!” and embrace instead a plan for miracles to happen.