Sunday, January 13, 2008

Magic, Mystery, and Miracles

For some reason the topic of miracles has been weighing heavily on my mind recently. Perhaps it is a hangover from the Christmas season, when adult Christians are asked to reaffirm their belief in the miracles that underlie their faith, and children are encouraged to accept the miracle of a gravity defying fat man in a red suit delivering carefully wrapped gifts around the world at breakneck speed. Upon reflection, I can't help but draw some comparisons between miracles, mysteries and magic. To humans, certain things only retain their miraculous status if we can't explain them, similar in nature to a good magic trick or a gripping mystery. After all, what good is a magic trick or a mystery once you understand it, or solve it? Having said that, even when we learn the trick, or understand the mystery, in the majority of cases we are still largely dependent on our faith in the person doing the solving or the explaining. A case in point. Most humans will tell you that they understand the principles behind getting a massive aluminium tube full of hundreds of people strapped into polyester seats (a 747), to lift itself off the ground and fly. None-the-less, I think most of us would admit that we barely understand how polyester is made, let alone how a jet engine functions or how 4 of them can work together through a computer program called autopilot to create enough lift to perform the miracle of flight. So when I ask people if they believe in miracles, and they hum and haw, claiming that they have never had any first hand experience with one, I can't help but marvel at the miracle of human ambivalence that allows us to casually accept not only the miracle of air travel, but the mystery and magic of life itself. What of the magic of the screen you are using to view the images projected by the microprocessor in your computer, through your retina into your brain allowing you to comprehend and process this blog and think? Sure we can speak the words that communicate the fact that we understand how synapses fire off small charges in a big mess of grey matter, but honestly, do any of us really get it? How do you even know its grey? Have you ever seen one? And yet we believe. As we come to understand more and more magic tricks of the universe and as the great mysteries of life are revealed, one can only hope that we will continue to give thanks for and continue to marvel at the wonderous miracle of our existence, while at the same time aspiring to create new miracles in the lives of others. For this, to me, represents our true divinity. And the image above - who would have thought that a sandwich spread could lead a cha cha of fellow ingredients to achieve sandwich supremacy. Oh the miracle of Miracle Whip.

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