February 14, 2009 – Life’s Little Miracles

This week in the news was a week of contrasts.  Earlier in the week many shows featured the crew and passengers from the flight that was forced to land in the Hudson River, and how grateful everyone was that their lives had been spared.  It is a real “feel good” story in the midst of so much negative news.  Then Thursday night another jet experienced distress with the outcome being just the opposite as 50 people are killed.  As you probably heard, one of the victims was a lady by the name of Beverly Eckert.  Her husband was killed in the 9/11 tragedy.  She had been an advocate for the victims of that horrific tragedy, and was doing many things in memory of her husband.  In fact, part of the reason she was commuting to Buffalo was to present a scholarship award in her husband’s memory at Canisius High School in Buffalo, a Jesuit-run school.

So the stories of gratitude and good feelings that were prominent earlier in the week turned to stories of horror and grief.  Instead of seeing passengers telling of their life-saving stories, we saw family members of victims telling of their memories and paying tribute to their loved ones, and trying to make sense of this tragedy.  And we are reminded once again just how fragile our lives are, and how quickly our time here on earth can expire.

I don’t want this blog to become “morbid”, but I think one of the great challenges we have as Christians is to make sense of a tragedy.  People who openly profess their Christianity are ultimately asked questions such as “Why did God allow that plane to crash?”, or “Why did God choose this group of people to live and another group of people to perish?”  These questions are asked to us not just from other people, but these are questions we ask ourselves, too.  “Why did I lose my child in that auto accident?”  “Why did my house have to get hit by the tornado?”  “Why couldn’t God have performed a miracle?”

In my religion class right now we are doing a review of the sacraments.  Last Sunday we discussed Anointing of the Sick, and how some people have the expectation that all of their physical ailments will be healed if they receive it, and how disappointed some people are when the “miracle”  does not occur.  But the truth is that miracles occur all around us every day, many of which we probably do not even realize.  When a child is born, when someone joins a cause for hman rights, when someone who has drifted away from the church has the urge to return – these are all miracles.  They may be much more subtle than walking on water or changing water into wine, but they are miracles nonetheless.

These tragedies such as a plane crash also seem to have a way to help us put things in perspective, even if it is just for a short time.  Many times when my alarm sounds at 5:00AM a feeling of dread comes over me – “Do I have to get up already?  Do I have to go face another day?”  This morning my perspective was a little different – I was thankful to go face another day.  Now come Monday I’ll probably have that same feeling of dread again.  This is something I need to work on.  All of us as Christians probably need to realize that tragedies are inevitable, but they also provide an opportunity for us to keep the legacy of those who lose their lives moving forward, and to spread the message that there are miracles in our midst if we keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to them.  On this Valentine’s day, cherish the life that we have been given and are so fortunate to share with others.

On to a lighter subject – the middle of February brings the cry that baseball fans have been waiting for for months – “pitchers and catchers report to spring training.”  I must admit that I am concerned about my Cardinals – they didn’t exactly do a whole lot to improve themselves this winter, but this will give some of the young players they have been developing a chance to show what they can do.  As we say, miracles are abound every day!

Until next week, peace.

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