Ordinary Miracles

Small and wiry, sharp-tongued and even more sharp-witted, she gave up a career she loved to care for ailing parents. It was, for her, simply the right thing to do. Swallowed in ten years of family acrimony, she became the sole caregiver for her widowed mother. “Thanks” or accolades were simply not involved in her case; invisibility cloaked her and yet she persevered until the bittersweet parting. There was not a sense of victimhood or of hardship: for her, it simply WAS. And so she cultivated, in the quiet hours of watching and in the frenetic times of emergencies, a prayerful space. It was there she found direction, comfort and sustenance. It was as if she did not realize the deeepened trust in God that she lived. But it was evident to everyone around her, everyone who knew her. “Holy” resides within and around us everyday, and there are countless possibilities to discover it and to bask for just a few moments in what is so far beyond commonplace and yet so very ordinary.

The Gospel story of the lepers echoes the same theme. In the presence of holiness, all were transformed. But it was only one who recognized that, who mirrored that holiness with a sense of purpose and of gratitude. The one who dared to be different and dared to return was able to choose wisely: deeply aware of his own truth, he followed it and expressed his gratitude for what had been unimaginable such a short time before. Perhaps the truth is he was the one who fully embraced who he had been once, who he was at that moment, and who he could be moving forward. There is a pricelessness in that reality that one fo us can transform another, that goodness is contagious and joy is possible. Gratidue animates life with a sincerity and hope that can be ignited in another. Hidden in the lines of the parable rests another point: 9 out of ten missed that magic moment of mirroring holiness. Maybe the Gospel is actually a subtle call to become more aware of what is happening in daily life, and more conscious of the blending of extraordinary with the ordinary. Maybe it is a reminder that there are miracles happening every day and there is so much to be grateful for.

There is the stroke victim who fought his way back to become an ambulance driver. There is the retired teacher who stepped up to a fifth grade math class in the face of a teacher’s emergencey medical leave. There is the high school student who limped up to the podium to talk about Catholic education wearing her school uniform and an enormous cast on her leg at the end of Mass. There is the dentist who treats patients like friends and eases fears. There is the great grandmother who clips coupons for diapers and the grandfather who coasts hours on highways to see one little fellow’s Pop Warner game. Holiness, attentiveness to the moment, to the person, mirrored each time. Holiness is not an “all ot nothing” proposition: it is the awareness of being alive in a world of wonder and expressing gratitude for the opportunity. Maybe holiness is really living the grace of gratitude and ackowledging that there is so much more than self in this world. And maybe that is why Autumn is particularly stirring this year, why its vibrance against the background of drought is a celebration of being to be noticed and appreciated.

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