Brian Doyle is editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance, and, most recently, Chicago, a novel.
You want to hear a resurrection story? I’ll tell you A resurrection story. I saw a squirrel get squished In the street. This was on Ash Street, near where a Family named Penance lives. Things like this rivet Me. Religions don’t live in churches. Religions are Not about religion, in the end; they’re vocabularies. This squirrel got hammered. I mean, a car ran right Over it, and the car sped down the hill, and I recall Thinking that some dog would soon be delighted to Be rolling ecstatically in squirrel oil, but then, even As I watched, the animal resumed its original shape And staggered off into the laurel thicket, inarguably Alive and mobile, if somewhat rattled and unkempt. Jesus and Lazarus must have known that feeling, of Being sore in every joint, and utterly totally fixated On a shower and coffee and a sandwich. Or walnuts, Depending, I suppose, on species. Our current form Is a nebulous idea, is what I am trying to say. Could It be that resurrections are normal and the one we’re Always going on about in the Christian mythologies Is only One a long time ago, when there are millions Per day? Could there be an insect Jesus and a badger Jesus and a salmon Jesus? Could there be impossible Zillions of Jesuses? Isn’t that really the whole point?
Thesis: What we commonly think of as Miracles, are mere Synchronicities, felicitous accidents, startling coincidences; Whereas that which we call common is actually miraculous. Whoa; let’s approach this slowly from the side, as we would Edge up shy and careful to a sleeping wolverine. Wolverines Are good to start with, come to think of it—I mean, consider A wolverine carefully. A whopping big one weighs less than Half the dogs you know, not to mention those two obese cats, Yet bears and cougars and even the most stupendously stupid Men back away from wolverines. They have been revered by People who know them well for years beyond counting. They Own their place. They were designed by immeasurable years. There are only a few of them, compared to, for example, ants. Are they not miraculous? Do they not inspire a reverent awe? Can any of us make any of those? No? Can it be that miracles Are things which we cannot comprehend or construct? Hawks, Elk, porpoises, children, damselflies, quasars—the list cannot Ever end, because every time we discover something, we also Discover more that we don’t know yet, isn’t that certainly so? So that which is miraculous is quotidian. While the occasional Inexplicable recovery, the avoidance of death and mayhem by The thinnest of margins, that only happens on occasion, right? So because it isn’t quotidian, perhaps it isn’t a miracle. Listen, I know your brain is buzzling right about now—it’s happening To me too. But the thought that miracles are normal, isn’t that The cool thought of the day? Let’s remember that until dinner, You and me, and then savor the miracles with whom we dine.