One of my favorite Gospel stories is the Wedding Feast at Cana. It tells of the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. His first public miracle, done at the request of his mother. Ever time I hear the story, I glean something new from it. Recently, it caused me to reflect on miracles in general, a topic with definite highs and lows for me.
Growing up Protestant, I believed miracles only happened in the bible. The parting of the Red Sea, the healing of the lepers, making the lame to walk: all those things were reserved for a time long, long ago. I didn’t hear stories of those things happening any more, and I just assumed miracles only happened at the hands of Jesus and the twelve apostles. Us modern folk were left to pray, and hope for the best. Certainly, I knew people who’d had their prayers answered, but the word miracle was never mentioned.
It was not until I started down the road to Catholicism that I read about miracles outside the first century. I was completely amazed. We have a small tri-fold pamphlet that lists the official miracles from Lourdes; tons and tons of miracles just from Lourdes. Do only Catholics receive miracles? I don’t think so, but I think we seem to see miracles where others see luck, chance or perfect timing. And because we see them, and we know they’re happening today around us, miracles give us hope.
For years I prayed for a pretty big miracle. I’ve touched relics, oils, and statues to my son Fulton, and then his younger brother Teddy and prayed as hard and deeply as any mother can. I’ve done pilgrimages, had Masses said, asked for prayers and got my sons blessed by bishops, and had our intentions taken to Rome and farther. And yet, not all prayers for a miracle happen, or at least not in the way we want. That is hard and it hurts. It’s easy to lose hope; to say, why them and not us? When years of effort still yield hardship and suffering for a loved on, it’s easy to want to stop praying. I’ve been there.
I had to start appreciating the small miracles. In keeping my eye on the very dramatic “making the lame to walk and the blind to see”, I was overlooking the ways in which our prayers were being answered. Maybe it’s not as amazing as watching Lazarus stroll out of the tomb, but once I started thanking God for the little things I started regaining hope that He could and would help us through the big things. Eventually I learned that life could be wonderful, and full of joy even if it looked completely different from how I thought it needed to be.
Probably the best example I can give is of Teddy’s first year. We received his diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) while he was still in the NICU after being born six weeks early due to my problems with hypertension. He had been so active in the womb and such a fighter in the NICU (he never needed breathing support) we were convinced he was SMA free. Once we had the diagnosis, our minds couldn’t help but go to Fulton’s first year. Fulton never sat for more than 30 seconds unassisted. He never crawled, stood or walked. He rolled for a bit, but lost some of that ability by his first birthday. The doctors said Teddy would present SMA the same as Fulton; maybe a little better, maybe a little worse. We mentally prepared ourselves for a year of missed milestones.
However, that’s not what happened. Teddy was a plump baby, where as Fulton always struggled to gain weight. Teddy rolled, scooted, crawled and stood when placed against the sofa. He could even pull himself up on a low stool or step. When adjusted for his prematurity, Teddy met all his milestones that first year. People told me maybe the doctors were wrong, and while I never doubted his diagnosis would finally catch up with him, I didn’t realize how that one normal year would be such a balm for my soul.
Our neuromuscular doctor couldn’t explain the discrepancy. SMA can manifest in so many ways, but amongst siblings there were very few cases he could think of in which one sibling was so much stronger than the other. I believe it was a miracle. Not the big miracle I wanted, but a miracle none the less, small and still pretty amazing and unexplainable. And seeing Fulton and Teddy grow and live full happy lives, helped me realized that not getting exactly what I wanted wasn't the end of the world. I started recognizing the small miracles more easily.
While my husband was unemployed, our children were uninsured for three months. Fulton developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital on April 1, the day the kids' state insurance coverage kicked in.
With a limited budget, we found a used handicap van with tie downs for two wheelchairs and a rare under-mount lift within a reasonable drive of our house.
During a financially tough time, we learned we could refinance our home. After years of trying and being denied due to our specific loan and the fact that we were so underwater, a special program was created that we qualified for that saved us enough to buy the new roof our house needed.
Luck? Chance? Hell no. Answers to prayer? Most definitely. Miraculous?
Miraculous, adjective: 1.occurring through divine or supernatural intervention, or manifesting such power. 2.highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences.
Yes, I believe so.
Don’t discount the little miracles. Pray for whatever great things you desire, but don’t ignore the answers you get just because they’re not what you expected.
“The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.” – G.K. Chesterton
Kelly Mantoan is the founder of Accepting the Gift. She blogs at This Ain't the Lyceum where this post orignially appeared. Her book Better Than Okay: Finding Joy As A Special Needs Parent will be released by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing in fall 2021.