I don’t believe in miracles
Or at least, I’ve never seen one that struck me
As truly miraculous, beyond chance and doubt.
And where others see miracles
I see the chances of life
The vitality of thousands of interactions
Seen through the prism
Of the human wish to see patterns.
A wish to see the world
As a movie which we star in
Where divine gifts and mysterious forces
Bless or curse our path – with intent.
(like a puddle, thinking how perfectly
the hole around it
seems to have been made
to fit its unique contours)
I’m just an extra, enjoying my journey through the backstage of the world
It’s not about me, but I am me. And I enjoy what I see.
Who am I to say,
that the pattern you see
Is chance, is pure illusion?
It’s clear to me that’s all it can be
But I don’t want to hurt your dreams.
– though I will, if I think they will hurt you too
For there are people who exploit
This wish to believe –
Cold reading. Horoscopes. Psychological tricks.
Exploiting the wish to believe in miracles
To create a financial miracle of their own.
I have been hurt, too, by the illusions that others believe,
the special sensitivity they claimed to possess,
the fear-driven intuition they called extrasensory guidance.
I have nearly been killed by a driver who thought himself
Divinely protected and therefore able to take risks
With the lives of himself and his passengers
(It matters, oh how it matters, what we believe.
For what we believe shapes what we do and what we are.)
Is it a gift, to believe in miracles?
Is it deprivation, to believe they are not miraculous?
I don’t feel deprived… I just enjoy
The passing slideshow of the diverse earth
And take joy when my searching eye
Finds a special beauty in random chance.
Without making it more
Than a natural thing.
(The joy of rolling a double six
just when you needed it. Of drawing just that card
from the shuffled deck.
Almost more pleasing, for being random!)
Everyone is always at the centre of their own rainbow.
Not because of rainbows.
But because of humans being human.
Our creativity. Our hopes. The stories we tell.
These, if you like, are miracles I can believe in.
This poem-ish reflection was a response to a post over on red ravine, about miracles. I wrote in response:
I think it’s all about what you want to see. We are very good at finding patterns when we want to see them. Some people see the dot of earth on the iris… Others just random splashes. Others see a pointy-nosed mouse face looking out from her left collarbone…
Is it a gift to believe in miracles? Should sceptics like me butt in when people talk about them? I don’t know. I know people take a lot of comfort in miracles and strange coincidences.
But I’ve also been hurt by people who believed in things like this, who believed in signs and patterns relating to me when there was really no such pattern. At the end of the day, I think it does matter what we believe in. And for me, believing that such appearances are random chance rather than miraculous doesn’t actually take the comfort away.