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Miracles

Many coins

Maybe your mind works like mine. Maybe you are skeptical of stories like this. Read on and see what you think.

I have an old silver dollar I keep in a red velvet case. It was my Grandfather’s. He bought a bunch of them after they stopped making silver coins. After he died, my Grandmother was concerned that someone would break into the house and steal them. So, she hid in them in a variety of places and occasionally would tell one of her kids where they were. When Grandma died, my dad and his siblings looked all over the house for the coins. They looked in all of the known hiding places and every place we could imagine they might be.

I remember sweeping out the house to prepare it for sale. I found two old pictures behind a cabinet, but never found the coins we knew Grandma had hidden somewhere in the house.

It wasn’t that the coins were all that valuable. They were important to our family because they represented a tangible link to my grandparents. My mother began praying that we would find them.

My cousin put in a new hot water heater in the basement. After he was finished, my father went down into the potato cellar – a trapdoor that led to a crude concrete box about 10 feet square and about 6 feet high – and cleaned up the mess that was left after they installed the hot water heater. He didn’t find anything down there but dirt and canned goods. My aunt and her entire family went down a few days later and took the canned goods out of the cabinets. They cleared everything out of that cramped space.

Still no coins.

During the Christmas holidays my dad went into the house to do some work and went down into the potato cellar to see what his sister had done. In the middle of the floor was a white plastic grocery bag. In the bag was a box filled with silver dollars.

To this day, no one in my family or extended family knows where the coins came from. I know that they were not there when I swept and cleaned and found the old photos. My dad didn’t find them when he cleaned up after the hot water heater was installed. My aunt and her family removed everything else from the cellar – the basement is not that big.

Even spookier, though is this: there were sixteen dollars in silver. My grandparents had exactly 16 grandchildren.

Now, as I said before, maybe your mind works like mine. Maybe you are skeptical of stories like this. A long time ago, when I was more pessimistic, I felt that way. But, working in mental health for as long as I have, I’ve witnessed far too many Miracles to be able to explain them away anymore. I choose to believe in Miracles. And I’m grateful for them in my life.

Think about your own life and the miracles you’ve experienced. Your parents and teachers might be thinking that you sitting here in your gown, graduating, is a miracle!

I know that some of the personal healing you have done, aside from your studies, is nothing short of miraculous. You have overcome some very, very difficult situations that many people your age never have to face.

How did you do this?

I’ve thought a lot about that over the years. I’ve come up with many rational explanations that were proven wrong over and over again. I have run out of good explanations. I’ve settled on this: Sometimes, wonderful, miraculous things happen without explanation.

I planted a garden with my kids last year. We had spinach and potatoes and strawberries grow. How did that happen? You could argue that I planted a seed in well-fertilized earth, in a place where the sun would hit just right. I watered it, weeded it, and it grew.

But how in the heavens does dirt, light, and moisture make a seed grow? That’s the miraculous part for me. I know how to nurture a seed, but I don’t understand how life happens.

So, when I look at you, I think that there are parallels between my garden and your life. You’ve worked hard. You had help. You were in a very nurturing place, surrounded by people who have grown to love you. Your parents supported you financially and emotionally. You worked hard for what you’ve achieved, no question. You made great friends here. But everything I’ve just listed doesn’t always work for everyone. You know this. You can think of friends for whom it has not yet worked. So why did it work for you, at this time? I can’t explain it to anyone’s satisfaction, except to say that miracles happen. And you and I should be grateful for those miracles.

My mother had ovarian cancer. She was subjected to very painful chemotherapy treatments. They would pour the chemical into her abdomen, and then suck it out an hour later, after it had burned away all the cancer.

The doctors wanted her to walk to help her gain strength. She could make it about an eighth of a mile; then she’d collapse. I was living far away from home at this time, and she wrote me a letter I’ve never forgotten. She wrote that as she expressed gratitude for the miracles in her life – at this point in the letter I was thinking bitterly, “What miracles? You’re very ill. You’re in pain!” – as she expressed gratitude to God and to those walking with her, she found that another miracle occurred. She was able to walk an entire mile. Very interesting. The miracle to her was that she could walk a mile versus an eighth of a mile. But the real miracle, to me, was that she could be grateful even while experiencing extreme pain.

My advice is this: pay attention. Miracles happen around you all the time. Maybe you’ll find something you lost which was dear to you. Maybe you’ll find wonder in the marvels of nature. Maybe, like me, you’ll witness someone dear to you who must pass through suffering – and you’ll be exposed to the miracle of their humility.

Whatever it is, make a note of each miracle. Find something to remind you of the miracles you’ve witnessed in your own lives. I keep my grandfather’s silver dollar in a red velvet case to remind me of my grandparents, but also to remind me that wonderful things occur in life that I cannot explain.

Lastly, be grateful for those miracles. And if you can manage to find miracles anywhere, and remember to be grateful, even when others around you can’t perceive that you have anything to be grateful for, then that will be the most miraculous thing of all. As my mother discovered, there is real power in that.