Yes, with all the complaining many people do, we do live in an age of miracles. Oh, not the kind that fascinate us when we see a magic show. These are downright, certified, miracles of modern science.
I’m old enough to remember lying on the floor with my parents on the couch, watching the landing of men on the moon. That was no less than spectacular.
In my High School English class, I remember reading William Blake’s poem, “Auguries of Innocence”, his own hopeful testimony to wonder: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.”
When I was living in Orlando several years ago, we could see repeatedly from our parish parking lot the Space Shuttle’s tail of fire rise above the eastern horizon, turn right, and fade majestically into the upper atmosphere. It never became ordinary to see these people “(slip) the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."
When I first saw my youngest cousin, an infant boy, brought in to meet us, his family, about a half-hour after his birth, it brought a deep joy and pride to see this helpless, beautiful child, fresh from the protection of his mother’s womb, meeting us for the very first time. I cried tears of inexpressible joy.
And when I was told by my relative, a young married middle-aged lawyer, that his experimental gene-therapy at Mass General for his cancerous tumors was indeed a miracle drug, I gave him good long hug at this marvelous news. He was cancer-free for the first time in several years… and still is!
When we lose our sense of wonder, when we allow the world to decrease our joy perhaps because of the burdens we bear or the challenges we are asked to meet, when we don’t recognize the presence of a true gift of God standing before us, we have already begun to die.
When we don’t go out of our way to see the majestic beauty of our National Parks, even Cape Cod Bay, when we dismiss the opportunity to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and allow this vast spectacle to take our breath away, we have lost part of our humanity.
The truths of science can connect us with the universe. As Carl Sagan stated in his wonderful television series, Cosmos: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star-stuff.” All I can say is “Wow!”
Our ability to believe is also, in a very real sense, a miracle. That we who tend to want to be able to prove things, to demand absolute answers, to see before we allow ourselves to take the step into the void called faith, yet we allow ourselves to be open to the gift of God, our faith – that is certainly a wondrous ability, an essential part of who we are as fragile and dependent human beings.
Rachel Carson, the famed naturalist, took one step further when she said: “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
That might be why God gave us humans the ability to experience a deep, heart-changing sense of wonder – so that we can appreciate life, beauty, and those mind-expanding experiences that reveal to us an eternal truth; namely, that we are all sisters and brothers, true cohabiters of this Earth we call home… for the present time.
My prayer is that – soon and often – we may all open ourselves: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” We do live in an age of miracles if we allow ourselves to take the time to stop and notice them.