Little Miracles

Today's post is part of a Miracle Link Up hosted by blogger Kendra Tierney. Kendra likes to see the work of God in great things, like miraculous cancer cures, and small things, like toothpaste. I dig that.

When I think of miracles I have experienced, so many positive global and personal images come to mind: foiled terroist plots, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, my beautiful niece Caroline who survived a dangerous birth against all odds, the teaching job my husband fell into which delights him each and every day, the fifty-year commitment of my parents to one another.

I also think of crises that were narrowly avoided, events that remind me how close I come to disaster on a daily basis. Sometimes these disasters erupt directly out of my own carelessness (Hey, 16-year-old Grace: you can't take T-Top off a car while you're in the process of driving it!) or mouthiness (who gets a technical foul while coaching fifth-grade girls' basketball?). Once in a while, though, disasters in the world are NOT directly caused by me. And sometimes God allows disasters to come our way, giving us the strength to endure them and become better, more empathetic human persons. And then there are times when God seems to intervene directly and allow an imminent disaster to pass by. I pray God allows me to notice all those near misses. I pray I am grateful. I pray in awe of God's saving power.

These are a few of my stories of crises, avoided by the miraculous power of God.

Story the First, in which We Swim in Noah's Shoes

When our daughter Ann was about 4 or 5, she woke up in the middle of the night and wandered into our bedroom. This was unusual for Ann, who was our champion sleeper. She told us she just couldn't sleep, that something didn't feel right. Assuming she was about to vomit and begin another delightful round of Tag-Team Stomach Flu (always fun with five young children), I ushered her into the bathroom. But no, she looked and felt fine. "Something isn't right," she insisted, but not with her. Puzzled, we sat in silence for a minute.

Cartoon by Courage Creative
Then I heard it: the soft white noise in the background, the disturbance barely perceptible to the ear. This soft whisper of a noise grew louder as I followed it down, down, down the many short flights of steps of our house built into the side of a hill. I opened the door to the basement and beheld the source: a broken water pipe gushing water like a fire hose. Gallons upon gallons of water surged out of the pipe, pushing obstacles out of its path. Jumping to action, I turned off the water main and stopped the watery onslaught. Considering the force of the water, the basement surely would have been submerged in minutes. Ann must have awoken within seconds of the pipe's demise.

When I reflect on the dangerous and unjust living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters around the world, I am a bit ashamed to count a flooded basement as a "disaster." Nevertheless, the great expense and inconvenience of a full-fledged flood would have made parenting our young family arduous. If the flooding had continued, I believe God would have given us the grace to overcome the disaster, and we would live to praise him still. In this case, Ann woke up. And I have this cool story instead, this opportunity to praise God.

Story the Second, in which a Rosary Stops Time

My dad is a force of nature. When we were in a father-daughter troop when I was young, my dad's troop name was Wild Fire. If the leather name badges we hung around our necks had been larger, we could have used the wood-burner to add Also, Tsunami Hurricane Tornado Blizzard Earthquake. As it was, Wild Fire fit nicely, in oh so many ways.

My dad is not overly tall, but all of us kids remember having to sprint to keep up with his enormous stride in the grocery store. Dad is always early, always planning ahead, always under the assumption that speed limit signs serve in an advisory capacity. At a stop light, Dad watches the light for the cross street so he can anticipate when his own light will turn green. On one such occasion at an intersection with a very busy road, Dad saw the cross light turning yellow, then red; he started to release the brake; he was thwarted by his rosary. My parents always keep rosaries in their cars, and at the exact moment when my dad was about to enter the intersection, his rosary became tangled on the gear shift. He had to keep his foot on the brake for a few seconds longer to unravel the beads.

In the few seconds it took to disentangle the rosary, a car travelling at 55 miles per hour ran the red light on his left. If my dad had pulled into the intersection as he was prepared to, the car would have demolished him. Instead, my parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary together, surrounded by all 23 grandchildren. And perhaps without their even knowing it, the grace of God intervened that day for the many people my dad tutors, advises, and otherwise serves.

Story the Third, in which an Angel Speaks with a Five-Year-Old

When she was young, my daughter Clare had a special affection for her great-grandmother, my Italian "Spaghetti Grandma" Mazza. With an astonishing memory and capacity for deep feeling, little Clare had a tendency to grow quite attached to her favorite people--and their fancy bowls of candy.

When my grandma's health began to deteriorate, I worried about how to help Clare accept the possibility of Grandma's death. When Grandma entered hospice care, the conversation was awful. Clare, then 5, begged to be allowed to go visit her at the hospice. My aunties discouraged a visit, saying my grandma was nearly unrecognizable, that it was better for Clare to remember her as she had been. Normally not a dramatic child, Clare sobbed and wailed and pleaded. The only thing that consoled Clare was my promise to take her Valentine's Day card and hang it next to my grandma's hospice bed for her. I took the card with me that evening when I made my visit. Clare was at school the next morning when I learned my grandma had passed away.

I had all day to plan how to tell Clare. I prepared a yummy snack and set out a favorite book to read together in the comfiest chair in the house. I had actually had second thoughts about sending Clare to school that morning, hysterical as she had been the night before. But, throwing open the front door after school, Clare frolicked into the house, chattering away as usual.

After our snack, I positioned ourselves on the comfy chair. Steeling myself, I began:
"Clare, I have something sad to tell you. It's about Great Grandma. Clare, Great Grandma died this morning."
"I know," she replied.
"I told Will this morning, on the playground, that Great Grandma was dead."
"But. . ." I was feeling a little lost. "When did you do that? How did you know?"
"I told him at morning recess. My angel told me."
As it happened, my grandma passed away at the same time as morning recess. I asked Clare if she wanted to talk about it, but mostly Clare really wanted me to read the book, and by the way could she please have some more snack?

Crisis averted by miracle. Death is not a crisis, not really. And somehow, because of God's power, Clare learned that unexpectedly at a tender age. Praise God!

So while we can fit this in before Lent begins, let's shout Hallelujah to the Lord of miracles with Psalm 150:

Praise God in his holy sanctuary;
give praise in the mighty dome of heaven.
Give praise for his mighty deeds,
praise him for his great majesty.
Give praise with blasts upon the horn,
praise him with harp and lyre.
Give praise with tambourines and dance,
praise him with strings and pipes.
Give praise with crashing cymbals,
praise him with sounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
give praise to the LORD!