What if, in our lifetimes, we had the ability to perform one miracle?
That thought came to mind as I was walking the dog the other morning, when I often get my best thoughts. We were walking by my neighbors’ house, and I was wishing I could make his cancer disappear. That would be a miracle, because it’s the kind of cancer that cannot be cured.
What if we all got one miracle?
Years ago, a parishioner who was very dear to me experienced a cataclysmic medical event, went into a coma on life support for two weeks, and then, after the family decision to remove the life support, died. She was fifty years old, good, kind, funny, healthy, and beloved. When I went to see her in the hospital, unresponsive, machines helping her breathe, feeding her, helping her eliminate – that sound of those machines has never left me. I prayed so hard for a miracle. “Save her,” I prayed, again and again, knowing in my soul that only God could save her, that her recovering would be a miracle.
But it didn’t happen.
As I walked the dog, I entertained the idea. If I had one miracle, would I use it at the first opportunity and then be done? And if I did that, would I regret it later on? Or would I save it, thinking that if my child ever needed it, it would be there for her? And if she never needed it and I never used it, would it become a wasted miracle? Or would I save it for myself? Or would I use it for peace in places of war, or water in places of drought, or a contraption that would prevent catalytic converter theft?
By the time I was home and taking the dog’s leash off, I decided I would not want the responsibility and burden of having a miracle at my disposal. Too hard to make that decision, too much of a temptation to be selfish or selfless, to have that sort of power.
We don’t get miracles, but we do get other things, like patience and prayer, like hope and grace. We get doctors and scientists and pharmacists. We get casseroles and Postmates gift cards. We get friends who drop everything at moment’s notice. We get hospital chaplains and Kleenex and gallows humor. In the end, maybe all those are better than a miracle.
But if I did have a miracle….