Miracles Happen Everyday (and This Is How to Experience One)

I wake up to an alarm and darkness and, behind eyelids too heavy to lift, my first thought is how good it will feel to get back into bed tonight. Eventually, I muster the will to lift my legs over the side of the mattress. I stand. My joints pop like rheumatic fireworks. I move toward the bathroom. More fireworks. It didn’t used to be this way. Waking didn’t always feel like resurrecting. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(A miracle isn’t a moment.)

I stand at the sink, remove my mouth guard. Another night of clenching, but no cracked tooth, no chipped crown. I brush my teeth while looking into the mirror, while looking into almost forty years of time, while looking into dark circles, thinning hair, greying whiskers. I look into the future and see where time is taking me. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(A miracle is a collection of moments.)

I climb into the car on a morning tipping toward winter. There is a chill in the air. I turn on the heat in the car. The dust from a summer of unuse makes its way into my nostrils. They itch. I shiver. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(Miracles gather.)

I go to the gym and put in the time to stave off time the best I can. I return home, where my family is shaking off its slumber. I hope for hugs but get silence. The little girl, usually all smiles, is in an inexplicable funk. She cannot, we have learned, be retrieved from this place—she has to come back on her own. The middle one is anxious and his anxiety leads to a spill and a denial. The teenager slumps over the counter, shoveling cereal, head ensconced in headphones, clearly wishing he was anywhere else. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(Miracles congregate.)

On this morning, the children are borrowing every last ounce of my wife’s patience. I let them have everything she has to give—we will be business partners for a morning and not much more. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(Miracles accumulate.)

My family leaves, disappearing into the obligations of their day, and I settle into the obligations of mine. I return phone calls, reach no one, leave messages. There is a book to be edited. I’ve been writing it for almost three years. The finish line is so close yet so far away. I edit. There is a blog post to be written. I begin it as I always do, nervously wondering if it will be any good. It is difficult to write in nervous wonder. And yet.

I still choose to be here.

(Buechner writes, “A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”)

The blog post is mediocre, and I need to get away from it, so I go for a walk in the here I’ve chosen. I notice the morning chill has been burnt into autumn glory. The sky is as blue as an iMessage bubble. I hear the industrious chatter of squirrels in the trees, shelling acorns and walnuts for the winter. A gentle breeze blows and one lone dry leaf click-clacks its way across the street, like the first tap dance of fall.

I choose to be here.

(Buechner writes, “A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.”)

And I notice. Throughout the woods, vines have wrapped themselves around the trunks of the trees. For an entire season of summer, the green vines could not be seen amongst the green foliage. Now, though, the vines are dying sooner than the rest, and they stand out in crimson red. The beauty which was unseen can now be seen.

I choose to be here.

Why would we choose, daily, to be here in this sometimes mundane, often painful, and always uncertain life that we live? Because, like the forest, this life contains something more than we can usually see—it harbors a beauty that can only be glimpsed in particular moments, during particular seasons, from a particular angle, when the whole of it can finally be seen.

We choose to be here because this here plus that here plus another here will sometimes add up to a Here so sublime it can be called nothing less than a miracle.

Because aching joints and aging skin, morning chill and crabby kids, complicated mornings and complicated marriages, spoken words and written words, squirrels and vines, sometimes they add up to more than the sum of their parts. If we choose them—rather than allowing ourselves to feel chosen by them—sometimes they add up to gratitude we have no good reason to feel. Sometimes, if we’re paying attention, this ordinary thing plus that ordinary thing adds up to a veil being lifted, to a glimpse of something sacred. Sometimes, all the minutiae of life adds up to more than it can possibly add up to, and we become aware of this miracle called being Alive.

Miracles don’t happen when the rules of physics are bent. They don’t happen only when a bush is burning or when feet walk upon water. They happen amidst our daily toil and drudgery, when we choose it, over and over and over again. All day long. Every day.

Because miracles don’t happen all at once.

They accumulate.

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In his debut novel, Kelly weaves a page-turning, plot-twisting tale that explores the spiritual depths of identity and relationships, amidst themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.

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About Kelly

Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.