To understand the mysteries of life you must look around and within. You will see patterns everywhere; patterns that seem to manifest themselves over and over again.
- Bryant H. McGill
There’s something I’ve always wondered about miracles: Does everyone get one? Or just perfect people? You know, like saints or mystics from the twelfth century. Surely St. Augustine was more prone to the miraculous than someone like me, right?
The other night, though, put everything in perspective for me. I was on my way to dinner with my friend and former coworker Lisa. Her birthday was coming up, so after work I picked up vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, each packaged in a separate plastic container.
I walked to the train station, brown paper bag of treats in hand. The wind was blowing like crazy and I was trying to push my way past the crowd of commuters. In all the commotion, I dropped the cupcakes on the floor of the station. The bag ripped, and one of the cupcake containers tumbled out. The cupcakes weren’t ruined... just a little smushed. It was silly, but I beat myself up over it. How could I have been so clumsy?
And then I remembered something that made me smile. You see, this wasn’t the first time I’d made a mess of Lisa’s birthday cake. Two years earlier, when Lisa and I worked together, I was in charge of getting her birthday cake for a little celebration at our office. Lisa’s the kind of person who remembers everyone’s birthday and scours the store for just the right greeting card. One year, she baked three different pies for my birthday. She’s like the Martha Stewart of New Jersey. So I wanted to do something special, find a cake she’d never forget. I went to a famous bakery in New York and ordered this giant, cannoli-filled chocolate cake. Pastel roses. Fluffy whipped cream. Fancy script icing writing. It was beautiful.
It was also extremely heavy. I’m just under 5 feet tall, with the strength of a squirrel. So my sister, Priscilla, suggested I put the cake box in a large shopping bag with handles. We tipped the box over on its side to fit the bag and I carried it to work on my shoulder. Of course, when I opened the up box at work, the cake was completely ruined. A jagged line ran down it like a scar. The side looked like it had melted off. My co-workers teased me to no end about it.
It didn’t matter, though, how ugly that cannoli-filled mess looked; it tasted absolutely delicious! We gobbled it up. In fact, it almost tasted better smushed.
Maybe that’s how it is with miracles. We are all scarred and flawed. We fall over and over again. And even so, God continues to bless us with these amazingly sweet moments. If anything, his wonder seems to touch us more when we’re at our lowest–when we’re sick, all alone, running out of options. He takes us at our most smushed and works his wonder in us and through us.
Miracles have nothing to do with how wonderful we are and everything to do with how wonderful God is. Miracles are for everyone–we just have to be open to them.
I met Lisa for dinner that windy night and handed over the ripped paper bag of cupcakes, a little sheepish. She just smiled and laughed it off. Sure, it wasn’t the perfect dessert. But at this point, it was practically a birthday tradition!
Diana Aydin is an associate editor for Mysterious Ways magazine. When she was just a little kid, she got her first dose of the miraculous. She’s been on the lookout for miracles ever since. Her favorite time of the day is lunch time, when she gets to step away from the workaday world and enjoy a bit of God’s wonder, if only for an hour!