how to make miracles.

i have had a skeptical relationship with jesus – an active relationship which has looked different over the years, ranging from doubt to jaw dropping awe-inspired belief and back again. i love talking to those who believe deeply – it moves me. i’ve landed in the ‘many prophets’ zone [connected to many worlds and many universes theory] – jesus, buddha, muhammad, khalil gibran, my nephew, octavia butler…depends when and where you enter the human experience as to which will work for you, but i feel comfortable calling on all of them.

i have had a similar journey with miracles. i love miracles, but not the type that folks write ancient tomes about. i love the miracle of nature, the way there are these gorgeous and precise matches of prey and predator; i love ecosystems, i love birds flocking, i love sunrises and sunsets and the miracle of the michigan sky most of the time. i love finding whale skeletons at the top of mountains; the miracle of time.

lately i have been meditating a lot on three kinds of miraculous occurrences.

first: our existence as miracle. breath moving through the body, heart pumping, the speed of blood, the relationship of our emotional and spiritual selves to our physical selves. if we acknowledge this, it isn’t a huge leap to realize that our actions must be worth that miracle. so just realizing that we live, and all life is miraculous, that’s first.

then second miracle is the result of more and more people dedicating themselves to the mundane daily practices of existence that align us with the planet and with our own long-term survival. the meditative practices of composting, farming, baking bread, growing mushrooms, raising chickens, preserving water, using and being midwives and doulas, building and retrofitting homes, riding bicycles, healing each other, creating music and art, reaching consensus, holding each other accountable, working in community, learning self-defense together and applying restorative/transformative justice processes and so forth. the experience of being alive grows deeper when we value and work for (and with) all existence.

the third kind of miracle is the sacrifice of life for future generations, for a vision of justice in the world. this is nothing less than a miracle to me.

today is the anniversary of the assassination of martin luther king, jr, who foresaw his death and had this to say about it: “If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.”

it’s also easter sunday. i grew up searching for eggs and eating chocolate out of baskets and hearing the story told again and again: jesus was crucified. nailed to a cross and bled out hanging there – was died, buried, and rolled away the rock to rise again. jesus died for our sins, for every sin from killing to coveting, including even the sins of those who persecuted him. he not only forgave them, he was their redemption.

the parallel between these stories strikes me deeply – to have a clear vision of a liberated world {liberated from sin, from racism, from superiority, from hatred}…to KNOW this other world is possible, that it is within us, within our own behaviors – to have such faith in this that you literally sacrifice the life you are experiencing for that greater possibility – this is a miracle of love and faith.

i was always told that the miracle was the rising from the dead, but…i am older now. i look around me and see those who are sacrificing themselves daily for these visions of justice, for this love of humanity.

perhaps because of the ages during which jesus and then martin lived, it was necessary for their sacrifice to be a masculine hero story, a singular miracle. these days i see it much more often as a community act, a giving of one’s life to the practice of taking care of others and being cared for.

i am the first to admit, i am not as selfless as those i surround myself with, and those around the world who risk their lives every day to live…simply LIVE…in tibet, in palestine, in colombia, in haiti, in detroit. i see mothers and fathers make this sacrifice for their children, and later i see children make these sacrifices for their elders. i see organizers do this for their communities – pushing out past sustainability.

of course, we have to have balance….but/and/yet the thing is, we are dying a bit every day anyway. we can either struggle to grasp on to life that is fleeting, or hustle to accumulate as much fleeting material as possible, or we can use the time and space of our lives to be miraculous. and the path that seems to most consistently yield miracles is working to increase our collective capacity to love.

miracles are possible when we let that love consume us and use us, when we give ourselves over to understanding that our existence is a miracle.

life is most meaningful to me when i see it as a great arc of all things, possibly all existing at once but with circles, cycles, spirals, movement to it beyond my own individual days. the stories in history and in the present that most move me are all aligned with the belief that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” [star trek: the wrath of khan, 1982]

so whatever the circumstances were, if there was endless bread and fish involved, wine or water, a mountaintop…it was all a dream. a dream so dangerous that the dreamers were murdered before they reached the age of 40. a dream of miracles for the meek, mundane masses. and that dream continues today in a million ways…only time will tell which ones are right.

i have been thinking about what we have to practice in order to become miracle makers…it can’t always be as tragic and dramatic and isolated as being gunned down or nailed to a cross, there has to be a daily action. i am pretty sure it is love, in all it’s forms. love is the act of miracles.

to love is radical, to love in the face of human behavior is faith, and to love those who hate you so much that you would sacrifice your life for them…surely that is a miracle.

at grace lee boggs’ house there is a sign on the wall that says “community organizing is to the collective what spiritual practice is to the individual.” yes, yes, yes…and its all, every small and great act, love.