A-Musings – Miracles Major and Minor

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

We use the word ‘Miracle’ far too often, don’t you think? I mean, it would be a miracle if a day went by without someone somewhere proclaiming, “It’s a miracle”, or at least “It’s quite miraculous!” But miracles, no matter how common-or-garden they are, should not be taken for granted. St Lucia is of course considered a Catholic country where the population is said to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is pretty strong on miracles, so I may be preaching to the converted.

Have you ever considered the definition of a miracle? A miracle is “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency” says one source, while another less rigid source might maintain that “the word miracle is often used to characterize any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a wonderful occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other miracles might be: overcoming an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or ‘beating the odds’. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles.”

No single religion has a monopoly on miracles by the way. A Jewish scholar might write, “The common Hebrew word for miracle is “nes”, which translates as something that is raised up or elevated. For example, a flagpole upon which a banner is raised is also called a “nes”. So a miracle is an elevated and elevating event. It is something extraordinary that happens, where we see G?d’s hand clearly.” The scholar goes on to explain that “Ordinarily, when we look around us, we are not privileged to see G?d working openly. However, it is tough to argue with a miracle—a supernatural event that indicates strongly that G?d is at work. When we witness a miracle, we are elevated. We have been given new insight into the meaning of the ordinary events in our life, and we realize that they too are really G?d’s work.”

Obviously, for some, the word behind the n-word is not the only word that cannot be uttered; for some the god word becomes the “g-d” word, but I’ll not go into that right now.

The 17th century scholar Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi explains that what we refer to as nature is actually miraculous and “unnatural.” It is only because “natural” events happen all the time that we take them for granted. He asked his readers to cast their minds back to the time when the Jews were in the desert for forty years after the exodus from Egypt and manna rained down from the sky each morning. A child that was born in the desert and saw his food rain down from the sky daily would not be surprised at all and would think it perfectly normal!

Well maybe, but sorry, it’s pretty miraculous that anyone would believe that food fell from the sky each morning in the first place. Maybe our gullibility in believing in such miracles is what is pretty miraculous. The advances of science illustrate how utterly amazing are the most ordinary everyday processes such as the development of a seed into a tree or an embryo into a complete human being.

By the way, the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, explains that “The one to whom the miracle is happening, does not recognize the miracle,” which brings me to what I wanted to write about today: the hospital at Tapion.

While various governments have spent millions upon millions of dollars in building and barely completing, or not completing at all, grandiose hospital projects for patients with every imaginable medical, physical, or mental affliction, the good folk at Tapion have quietly gone about the business they started in 1996 – yes, next year they will have been operating for 20 years – of providing what at first was perceived as a service for the wealthy few but by now has become a viable option for St. Lucians from all walks of life.

Yes, yes; people grumble at costs; they gossip about alleged mistakes and rumoured misdiagnoses because that’s what people do. Sadly some do not see or appreciate the miracle that unfolds itself every day as the hospital – possibly unique of its kind in the Caribbean – greets every dawn by going about the business of providing excellent health care to those who seek it, and the doctors miraculously stretch their days and nights to cover Victoria and St. Jude’s as well, which sometimes makes them a little late for appointments at Tapion. Miracles should not be taken for granted.

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