It is mid-November as I write and, despite an October snow and this morning’s dusting, numerous twenty-degree nights, and vigorous winds, there are still flowers out there—dandelions and hardy mums and, at my house, a few very determined snapdragons and Johnny-jump-ups. Isn’t that a miracle, one might be inclined to say, perhaps a bit absently, as it is a busy time of year, after all, with more pressing tasks at hand than pondering the staying power of plants.
It’s true that the big miracles get all the press. The birth of Christ, the Buddha’s enlightenment, a large-scale disaster averted, the serendipitous discovery of a life-saving medicine—those kinds of miracles rather one-up the quiet, diminutive sort we encounter daily but tend to not see or acknowledge.
A friend got me hooked recently on a series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. The “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” stories are set in Botswana; the protagonist is Precious Ramotswe, a lady who helps people solve an assortment of problems, problems that are not, in the scheme of things, earth-shattering, but the solving of which does bring a measure of peace and contentment—small miracles—to the lives of her clients. At the conclusion of The Miracle at Speedy Motors, ninth in the series, Mma Ramotswe talks with her husband about miracles, about a large one that he especially hoped would come to pass but did not, and about the small ones of which she is acutely cognizant and which are, in their unassuming, work-a-day way, well...miraculous.
Perhaps as you read this you will be feeling overwhelmed, finding yourself in the midst of frantic holiday preparations, a bit anxious over whether the UPS man will show up on time with the Amazon order, wondering if you have spent enough to dazzle the people you feel you need to dazzle and if the outside lights are properly strung. Christmas may be the white one we dream of or the gray-brown one we don’t view as quite so picturesque. The flowers may finally be frozen.
The miracles are that the flowers will return in the spring, that the days will soon be getting longer, that though the world we live in is not always a kind place, we can be. We can find miracles; we can be a miracle.