We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, December 31. 2014
Then I realized I was riding on the train to work for about the 7,000th time in my life, and I was likely to do it over and over again for another 6,000 or so rides. It was at that point I asked, "Hey God, where's my miracle?"
Almost as soon as that popped into my head, I realized how stupid I was. I contemplated this a bit further, though. Plenty of people pray to God for the things they want. Love, money, enjoyment, even critical things like surviving a difficult situation or just simply living through a debilitating disease. We all hope for God, or whatever being or entity we believe in, to provide us a miracle at some point.
I say "we all" because the old phrase "There are no atheists in foxholes" rings true to me. At some point, in everyone's life, we've asked a higher power for something.
So here I was, just lazily asking God for a miracle to help me not have to ride this train into the city anymore. Hardly worth asking for. But I asked it because I was being mentally lazy.
Atheists sometimes use the 'fact' that God doesn't 'answer' prayers as a proof that there is no God. I've never found that particularly compelling, for one reason.
On the other hand, as I rode the train I realized He owes me nothing, He has already provided everything I need for my miracle or my big break. I've either missed my chances up til now, flubbed them somehow, or the right time hasn't arrived (and may never).
The fact is, not much separates me from anyone else in that regard. Even after many people get that miracle, there's more to be asked for. Even after someone's miracle isn't fulfilled, they will still ask for another. The only thing that may set me apart is realizing I shouldn't be asking at all. I should instead focus on what I have, and how to make the best use of it.
Doing that is the hardest thing any of us can do, and some are much more successful at it than others.
Yesterday, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a quote that said "The world does not need more successful people. The world needs peacemakers, healers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds." I disagreed, slightly. It all depends on what you mean by successful people and how you define success. We need more successful people, in my opinion, and we need them in all kinds of different specialties. There is no reason we can't be all the things the "world needs" and still be successful at other things like business, parenting, or just being fun people to be around.
So while I'll probably still keep asking God for 'my miracle' (the lottery sure would be nice!), I will always remember that's not what I should be asking for. I'm better off asking God to continue to provide me with everything He has provided up to this point, both good and bad, because that's what life is all about.
I should be inclined to ask for a bit more patience and understanding so that when bad things happen I can deal with them more effectively. I'm more likely to see those kinds of requests fulfilled. All the other miracles I ask for He has really already given me the tools for, and I've just got to figure out how to use them better.
As the new year approaches, that's what my primary wish will be. To try and keep improving who I am not based on what I see from others, but from who I used to be. Being a better person is something we can always strive for, and even when we fail we can pick ourselves up and try again. We just need that little extra help to get back on the path of improvement.
So that's what my wish for all of Maggie's readers will be for 2015 - keep improving. Have a Happy New Year.
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As a Rabbi in my seminary put it - G-d is not a vending machine.
Deposit prayers and good deeds, make selection - kaching.
That is basically the pagan way - wheeling and dealing with the forces of nature.
I begin prayers with a litany of the things in my life I am thankful for... I always seem to run out of time before I get to any petitions...
What purpose ought a miracle serve? Is it for making things better or easier for you in some way, or is it for bringing you into a close encounter with God?
I suspect that people experience genuine miracles far more often than anyone realizes. But then we explain it all away, we rationalize, we shrug our shoulders, and we refuse to be dazzled by whatever gift of divine contact we've received. "Gee, that's swell, God. But can't you do something bigger?"
After God plagued the Egyptians, parted the Red Sea, led his people with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, fed them with quail in the evening and manna in the morning, and spoke to Moses so that his face shone so brightly nobody could stand to look at it, what did the Israelites do? As soon as Moses went up the mountain for a bit to talk with God some more, they collectively shrugged their shoulders and essentially said, "That God who led us out here seems like kind of a jerk. Screw that guy. And Moses too. Let's make ourselves an idol."
Very little has changed since then.
All that said, I do genuinely hope you get your miracle, and that you know it for what it is. May God bless you, in the best possible ways.
Well, that's kind've why I wrote this, and why I said after thinking it, I realized it was the wrong question.
The real miracle is that we have the opportunity to make things better. We can make them better no matter how good things are, or how bad they get, and it's the only miracle that matters.
God answers all prayers. The vast majority of the time the answer is .... NO!
I agree He does answer all prayers. I also think He answers them with a yes.
But I don't think He just does whatever is asked, in a manner we'd like or prefer.
It's my belief He provides the tools and/or opportunity, and leaves the rest to us. If we can't use them properly, it's not an issue of Him not responding, but us not understanding or recognizing His gifts.
That's a secondary point, to me. While I'm almost all of us ask God for something from time to time, what occurred to me was that He's already provided me with everything and whatever I've done or will do is "the miracle".
So if I want to be rich and not have to work anymore, He hasn't said "No", He's said "well, you've got the tools - what have you done with them to make that happen?"
I'd add He probably also asks "Is that really what you want? Most of the things you want will likely carry additional burdens. If you're prepared for those burdens, and can carry them well and without remorse, then get to it."
I made no resolutions for 2015. I figure I'll just see if I can accumulate some positive karma over the year and see how it goes.
I've had my miracle four times: two great wives, two great kids.
As I approach retirement I find there's less and less things that I want. Throughout my life there were many things I wanted but did not acquire I'm now grateful many never materialized. It's human to dream and to want more but there comes a time when you find that what you have is enough. What matters is the people in one's life. Of all of the people I know there's more that I love than do not love and more who love me than those who don't. I don't have an enemy in the world. I am not wealthy but I am debt free and that is a sort of wealth these days. I'll be comfortable in retirement although many item's on the bucket list will go unchecked. So far I've been blessed with robust health although I haven't always been careful. Life offers no guarantees but if you make it to the check out without a lot of regrets it doesn't get any better than that.