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  • In Sunday School
    I learned the liturgy of miracles
    I learned to expect
    miracles and trumpets
    to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

    The nuns taught me all about miracles. Every Sunday until the year I was in eighth grade I went to Sunday School and they earnestly instructed us in the liturgy of miracles. During Mass, I let the familiar words flow through me, stood when I was to stand, knelt when asked to kneel and sat patiently on the hard pews. I watched the light pour through the stained glass windows and imagined music to go with the light and the stories. I was quite sure that. So, when miracles did occur, I missed them. They happened modestly and quietly, without fanfare. Once, in a tide pool, I saw a small octopus appear where only a small rock had been. My miracles have all been like that, camouflaged, invisible, ordinary. Until they moved and were revealed.

    Some of my miracles have happened and some are waiting and I know they are there only by a vague sense that something is coming. When I lived alone on a small island I would have a feeling, a restlessness like the southwest wind running long up the hill and bending the trees impatiently. Then I knew someone was coming and I wasn’t surprised to see a figure walking up the road. Some of my miracles are on the way but haven’t arrived, not yet. Some have been small and of no consequence and others have meant everything to me.

    I hitchhiked from Maine to Vermont with Jeff to see his girlfriend. We were just 20 and broke. Not a dollar, not a dime, and still a long way from home. We were in a New Hampshire mill town, on the bridge across the river and after checking our wallets many times I wished for money to buy something to eat. I looked in my wallet a third time and there was a dollar. We bought donuts with that miracle and realizing I was in a good place I wished for a ride and the second miracle took us almost all the way home. Not wishing to be selfish I wished for world peace but I guess two was my limit that time.

    Years later, in a broke down boat in a howling gale thirty miles offshore I prayed to live. The sea was so close, just an inch of wood between me and eternity, and when we crawled out on the deck to bail and bail the sea reared, wild and terrible. Our world was only a scrap of deck and ice and waves and desperation. We finally fell asleep huddled beside the dead engine sure we would drown and only hoping it would be fast. We woke to what felt like silence and twisting streams of sea smoke between the crests so that only the peaks of the long waves showed and we knew were saved if not yet found. In that moment my mind left my body and travelled far across the sea to the land and home and felt the presence of those who searched and would not give up.

    I have seen the universe in a drop of rain on a bright red apple. Seen all of time and space reflected on the delicate curve. I have seen the rocks alive and the trees dance. I have flown above myself and known how and why and where. Forgotten immediately but for that instant known.

    I learned about miracles from the nuns but then I discovered if I wanted to be uplifted I could go for a walk in Forest Park and through the art museum and I ceased to listen quietly on the long hard pews and began to search.
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