What’s a miracle? An extraordinary event that is ascribed to a supernatural or divine cause? I think the human body is an amazing miracle, but it is far from extraordinary ~ billions of them are walking around everywhere. Something impossible or at the very least, highly unlikely? Flying an airplane into a building seems to me to be damn close to impossible, but when it happened, no one I knew thought it was a miracle.
In her book, Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup posits that the difference between any old random event and a miracle is gratitude. The doctor who arrives at the accident just at the right moment: I’m grateful, and it’s a miracle. The seeds that I planted last month that are now sprouting greens and garlic: I’m thankful (and amazed by them), so it’s a miracle. The good fortune to be able to do something much desired and needed (say, like taking a sabbatical): my gratitude makes it miraculous.
This week, I taught my last class before my summer sabbatical, was given a lovely send-off by team mates and Nia practioners, and I’ve started playing with creating the form and freedom of the next few months. This week, I’ve been inundated with miracles — the people I get to dance and work and play with, the garden I get to experiment in, the music and words and colors I hear and read and see – for all of it, I’m deeply grateful and I am aware of the miraculousness of it all.
In March, when I was leading the Nourishment Retreat*, I kept finding myself knee-deep in miracle. We did a simple taste meditation one morning and I was struck by how that one cashew nut connected me with not just hundreds of people (from farmers, field hands and truck drivers, to wholesalers and the Whole Foods guy who stocks the bulk containers), but with Nature (the sun and rain and soil that made that one nut possible) and the mystery of life (I mean, how DOES a plant grow and how does that nut become part of me when I eat it?). Sitting in that meditation, I felt filled up with amazement and wonder and gratitude for that durn cashew nut, because no matter how mundane it might be, in my book, it’s still a miracle.
This first week of sabbatical, it’s been easy for me to remember how grateful I am and how miraculous my life and the world is. That can be far more challenging when life feels busy and overwhelming or I’m feeling bruised and battered in body, mind or emotion. My invitation today is to connect with something that you are grateful for and notice that by that very act, you are making a miracle.
Even if it’s the miracle of a cashew nut, I find that the shift in perspective makes a world of difference.
As I launch into my summer sabbatical, I leave you with a poem of blessing that I read at the end of my last class. May you be safe and well, happy and content, healthy and strong, peaceful and at ease.
Beannacht — A Blessing — by John O’Donohue
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the curach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
And may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
* If you missed the Nourishment Retreat in March or if you went and loved it and would like to experience the “summer version,” please join Rebecca George and Heather Wetzel and me for A Day of Nourishment on July 28! Click here for all the details and register before May 15 for the best price!