Divine Spark

The wafting aroma of holiday baking in the warmth of glittering lights are brightnesses in the midst of the cold uncertainties of winter’s chilly arrival. But the thought of all that, the Hanukkah lights and the Nativity sets, leads straight to the possibility of miracles. Miracles somehow embrace our deepest fears and fondest hopes and shape realities we could not have envisioned. They are not delivered in big vans blazing with emblems, and they do not come with crafted wrapping or satin ribbons, and most of the time, they do not appear on those big holidays. Miracles are the tiniest and the most gigantic all at once; they are swift and slow, strong and gentle. Miracles are what happens between and among humans.

Miracles are the moments David Whyte alludes to in The TrueLove, that singular moment when the hand of another fits perfectly in yours, when what was not even anticipated or hoped for somehow becomes a reality, a knowledge within that is incontrovertible. Miracles rest on moments of being loved and loving; they convert the ordinary circumstances of living into the extraordinary experience of loving. They happen in the smallest of instances and linger in the larger ones as well; they are there for acknowledgment and for human experience and they are not confined to any shape or size or package. Miracles draw the best from us and share the best of us. They defy the smallness of jealousies and insecurity, resist the temptation to deceive or decry, negate or punish. Miracles, small and large, are the real twinkling lights of life and they are not tied to the dark of winter but to the nature of human beings and the ways we think and interact and become more and better than we were before.

On this fourth and final Sunday of Advent, a year when Advent stretches through all four weeks, the message is not about charity or being unworthy or undeserving. It is all about being more than than that. There is the Old Testament promise of Emmanuel and the story of the birth of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Tucked in between the two readings is the piece from Paul’s Letter to the Romans which ends with “grace and peace to you…” In combination, these are the stories of human beings connecting to one another, trusting in a promise and honestly, respectfully, daring to share treasured thoughts and ideas. Emmanuel, God with us, is the subtle and gentle miracle framing all other miracles. It rests on the gloriously unearned gift of God, and it is communicated carefully, compassionately, from one human being to others. It is the beginning of a chain of kindnesses that gently inserts miracles into ordinary days and lives.

To be able to see that is a gift in and of itself. To be able to look into the eyes of another and find there acceptance, understanding and compassion, makes all the difference. To be able to give that, to receive that, is to share the divine spark that transcends all division and difference, all stress and tension, all misgivings and all fears. It is, most surely, another miracle.

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