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.
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.
A stack of brownies as big as bricks for my children. A small paper bowl of red and orange salmonberries. An antler from a spike buck, perhaps three years old, Perhaps a black-tailed deer, perhaps now gargantuan. Cranberry syrup made up the coast about eight miles. Handshakes of all sorts. A photograph; their one son, Just deceased; we just thought that you should have it. Blackberry jam, homemade. Honey, homemade. Salal Sprigs, elderberry sprigs. Canned smoked salmon and Tuna, caught about two miles to the west of where we Stood in the library. A baby girl hoisted up so she and I could look each other in the eye. She sneezed. Books To scrawl upon. Huckleberry leaves. A cougar’s tooth, Gleaming. A man gripped me by the shoulder and said Nothing. His was a remarkably expressive grip. People Give you things without any things in their hands. You Know what I mean. They are eloquent without needing To speak. We hardly ever talk about this. I shuffled off With my arms full. I had been slathered by the glorious And only a little of it was in the basket I tucked into my Car. People were hungry for something. I knew what it Was and it wasn’t me; but I could tell stories that could Point to what it is we are all starving for. We work and Yearn and struggle and dream for it. Occasionally when We gather together, if there is humility, if there is story, If there is honesty, then there is just enough food for all.