Small Miracles

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The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.

CS Lewis



My sainted mother taught me how to drive, and I was a hideously bad driver at first.  She would take me out to drive and come back and take a “nerve pill”, as she called the tranquilizers that she reserved for encounters between me and the horseless carriage.  I improved with time, I certainly couldn’t get any worse, but my mother remained nervous about me having some mishap on the road.

She died at 48 on Easter Sunday 1984 after a heroic battle with cancer that lasted a year and a half.  For the remainder of my life I will remember the courage, grace and humor with which she fought the disease that took her life.  Cancer conquered her but it did not defeat her spirit.  For her last two weeks of life she was hospitalized in a coma.  My wife and I would stay with her during the day and my Dad and brother would take the night shift.  Come what may Mom was not going to die alone.  On Easter morning, as my wife and I approached my mother’s room, my brother came running out to get us saying that Mom was waking up from the coma.  We ran into the room, and Mom’s eyes were open.  She looked at the four of us, said that she loved us all and died.  I told our priest about this and he said that we had been granted a great privilege that morning and I agreed with him.  I regard this as my first encounter with the miraculous.

My second encounter with the miraculous occurred a few months later in September when my wife and I were planning to drive from Mattoon, Illinois to Meridian, Mississippi to attend her sister’s wedding.   We were driving around town when the power steering went out on the car.  As I was driving it to a garage to get that fixed, one after another of the tires began to go flat, until by the time we were at the garage all the tires were as flat as a losing lawyer’s argument.  Everything was repaired and my wife and I drove safely to and from Meridian.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, although in 38 years of driving and having owned many cars I have never experienced anything like it.  I think it more likely perhaps that in the world to come my Mom, a woman of awe inspiring love and willpower,  was doing her best to make sure that her worst fears regarding me and driving did not come true due to a blown tire or failed power steering.

It seems appropriate to me that both of my experiences with the miraculous involve love, because the ability of humans to love and to be loved has always struck me as the greatest of miracles God has bestowed upon us.  Large miracles like Fatima or small miracles like the two I have related reveal the great truth that we are not alone in this Universe and that a loving God presides over it.

At any rate those are my two personal brushes with events in my life that I regard as miraculous.  I invite my readers who have experienced what they regard as miraculous in their lives to mention it in the comment thread.

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  1. One Saturday or Sunday afternoon about 32 years ago my husband John, sleeping in his Lazy boy during a football game or something– woke up, jumped out of his chair, ran to the patio door, out, over the deck railing and ran to the front yard where he slid under my son who was falling about 18 + feet from a broken branch in a boxelder tree. Caught him just in time. I had followed John as fast as I could, and came upon them both– John pale and out of breath flat on his back with Jase on his chest, just fine. We have always thanked Jase’s angel for that mysterious “call” to his Dad.

  2. She died at 48 on Easter Sunday 1984……

    Ah,…….48 years old – much too young to die.
    However, Don, I’m sure your description of her as your ‘sainted mother’ is highly accurate.

    How’s this one. (one among several throughout my life).

    In 1979 I moved with my young family to Austrtalia – the work situation in NZ was not good, and although I was well qualified in the building trade, and in management with a large manufacturing company associated with the building industry, nothing went right.
    I had purchased an old 1964 Holden Station wagon for my work – it was pretty clapped out, but – hey – it went. This Sunday morning I went out early to see if it would start, because I knew the battery was low. No go. So I opened the bonnet to let the early morning sun warm the battery. I went out again half an hour later, and after turning the engine about half a turn, it died again. So i left the bonnet up for the sun to weave its magic 😉
    So its a quarter to eight, Mass is 2 miles away at 8 a.m. I got my two young boys, sat them in the seat with me, and with not much hope, hit the starter. All I got was a “Rur” – and that was it; the battery was as dead as a maggot.
    My older boy said, “What’re we going to do?”
    I said, “You boys start praying – say the Our Father.”
    When they got to – “Thy will be done” I hit the starter again. Would believe the car roared into life. I kid you not – I and my boys remember it as if it was yesterday. So we joyfully bounded off to Mass.
    After Mass, we went out to start the car to go home, and it wouldn’t even mesh the ring gear. It had totally expired after its last gasp mission accomplished. We walked home, and I rang my cousin who was a part time mechanic, and after an hour or so and a transplanted battery, the old grey Holden had its life back.

    Anyone is welcome to top that one. 🙂

  3. Anzlyne, your son obviously has a hard working guardian angel!

    Catholic Lawyer, my condolences. It is a hard blow. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both my father and my mother. I regret most of all that they did not live long enough to see my kids here on Earth. However, I have attempted to remedy that by telling my kids about my parents and the humorous and touching times we enjoyed. Memory of loved ones is painful and joyful, which is a pretty good summary of our mortal lives.

    Thank you Don. Mom lived a short life but a good one. She had a bout with breast cancer that she survived in 72. She said that as long as she lived to see her boys grow up that she was content, and she accomplished that goal. I will never forget how tenderly my tough Dad nursed her in her final illness. It was a great lesson for me in true love.

    In regard to some onery vehicles that I have had, divine intervention would have been very welcome indeed!

  4. Catholic Lawyer.
    My prayerful condolences for your mother’s recent passing.

    Don. The memory of our parents is always with us. My mum passed away last year in February, and dad about 6 years ago. Like you say, they are a constant reminder to us of the example that we should set for others – particularly our children and grandchildren.

    This last week has been a real reminder to me of our short time in this life. Monday of last week, my Aunt Louisa Young died at the ripe old age of 106 years. My brother and sister & I went to Auckland to her funeral which was a very secular affair – Aunty had a little faith, being baptised and raised Methodist, but had not bothered much with religion in her life. She was however a generous soul, so I prayed for Christ’s mercy for her.
    Then on Tuesday of last week, Deacon Mike Ryan died in Rotorua. Dcn. Mike was the first deacon in NZ, being ordained in 1990 – he was a big man who had been a hard man in his younger day, but became a firm but gentle giant with his diaconate. His funeral was Saturday – a wonderful Requiem Mass with 2 bishops, 15 priests and 10 deacons in attendance – a total contrast to my dear old Aunt’s funeral the day before.
    Then this Monday, Sister Kathy died – she was a nun in the order of St. Joseph of Cluny from the convent here in Tauranga. She was 72 and died of cancer – she didn’t want any treatment, just pain mamagement – and she died only 3 months after diagnosis. She was a Cook Islander, and her funeral was yesterday, with 3 bishops and 10 priests, and many of the members of her family from Auckland and Rarotonga. The Islanders broke out into song after communion – the rousing harmony that the Pacific Island people put into their song is something quite unique and wonderful and I always think that that is how much music will sound in Heaven.
    And yesterday, a dear old lady Clare McFarlane died – she was one of a group of four old dears to whom I take communion in a rest home each Friday morning – now there is only three. I had difficulty not choking up while I offered prayers for her with the remaining three old darlings. Sic Transit Vitam.
    So presently, I’m all funeralled out – Its a good thing I can sit back tonight and watch the rugby while chuggalugging a couple of the amber fluid.

  5. Donald, you are so very right! Our lives can be summarized as both joyful and painful; if we’re Christian, it’s a tragi-comedy. I want to say that the quote from Lewis is exactly right. The idea that God must supernaturally intervene in what is otherwise normal and mundane to perform miracles is entirely post-Kantian and strictly untrue. Lewis was more to the point when he said that God “feeds new events into that pattern.” I like that. We recognize something of that when we acknowledge the incarnational nature of the faith. And how God uses the ordinary to bring about the extraordinary. How he transforms suffering, pain, grief and loss….how all of that is taken up into the cross and there sanctified….out of evil comes good!

  6. CatholicLawyer– I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

    Donald- my family has a pattern where things go wrong in the best way possible. Just like your steering and tires– there’s a tiny time range when something going wrong is annoying but not a disaster, and that is when things happen.

    Favorite example: my dear husband was promised his dream orders, but got switched to a different ship that wasn’t even out of Tokyo…where we met. I think he’s happy about that, for the girls if nothing else. *grin*

  7. Many prayers to be offered for the recent losses mentioned above. CatholicLawyer, my condolences.

    My elder brother’s work in the music industry calls for constant travel, and surviving a lifetime of that seems to require small miracles. He missed—by hours—the sinking of the Estonia, and the Kyoto earthquake. (Never mind icy runways, riots at concerts and that brush with the Nigerian military.)

    Curiously, my maternal grandmother, my mother, and I all experienced strange “rescues” as children. Gram slipped on the frozen deck of a sailing yacht her carpenter uncle was working on, and fell over the side, but instead of tumbling into the icy water below she (somehow) fell up and landed on another part of the deck. My mother was hit by a car, and she (somehow) flew into the air and ended up sitting on the curb, unharmed, as an ashen-faced driver screeched to a halt, positive he’d run down a child in the street. Less dramatically, I slipped through an opening at the top of a basement staircase, and (somehow) floated gently down into a box on the concrete floor below.
    Guardian angels wield powerful updrafts.

    If you can, please take a moment to pray for the souls of those lost in the tragic plane crash in Russia on Wednesday. Almost an entire KHL hockey team is gone, representing many nationalities, and hundreds of families are now mourning sons and brothers, husbands and fathers.

  8. Small miracles, guardian angels, and travels.
    My sympathy to you two Dons and Catholic Lawyer. Anzlyne, any more treeclimbing – not that one I hope.

    My pastor said no when I asked him if it was crazy to think angels broke my fall from the ladder going down to the cellar last winter. Just a sprained wrist.
    Twice, intentions prayed for in Novenas were granted to those people. Long stories.

    This is weird, but I think it’s a miracle. In April of 1984, also, my father who always said when you die, that’s it; died at 69. He was in hospital on pain med like morphine, but on his last night he energetically asked me to get his dungarees, which he never even owned, because he was getting out of the museum. I had seen him watching Billy Graham intently not long before that spring and I think he knew then there was more after death because he wanted comfortable clothes to go to work – in purgatory? Sort of saying not to worry, a changed heart, the dungarees being the new kind of work clothes at that time. He was a worker with his hands on anything mechanical. (He drove to Meridian (!) from MA seven times from wedding to seeing their granddaughter) For a little time after, my mother (I once) saw the pull string on the light over his workbench swinging. Weird, but I have hope for his soul after his joyous request for his dungarees.

    Not weird, but miraculous, are the constantly appropriate messages and prayers of Pope Benedict XVI. Our Catholic religion is rich, full of hope and help.

  9. Don, we are always in the midst of death and life, and I think the older we get the better we understand that fact of this vale of tears.

    pat, out of evil comes good indeed, if not always in this life most assuredly in the next!

    Foxfier, I had a similar turn of events that led me to meeting my bride of 29 years and counting involving a brief window of time when we both both living in the same grad dorm at the University of Illinois for one year only. We met in February, were engaged in May and married in December. I would not recommend such rapid courtships to my kids, but it has worked passably well for both my wife and me! 🙂

    Suz, prayers on the way for the Russians! I have had similiar escapes and I always refer to them as days when my Guardian Angel is working overtime!

    PM, I trust that your father and mine are now both members of Saint Joseph’s work crew! My Dad was a great tinker, shadetree mechanic and amateur draftsman, and I can think of few things that would make him happier than engaging in that type of work under the gaze of the Beatific Vision.

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