When I was nine, my best friend Teresa and I decided to count to one million. My family had recently moved, so we kept track of our progress through breathless play dates and eager letters: “I’m at 21,345!” “I’m at 33,590!” I knew Teresa would never lie about her progress — she was scrupulously honest, and I took care to track my count by making hatch marks in a spiral notebook, one mark for every hundred. We never got much further than one hundred thousand; I suppose constantly counting in one’s spare time became tedious, especially as I got acclimated to my new school. It was with misgiving that we decided, jointly, to quit.

Some things are practically impossible. Even if one approaches a task with great enthusiasm, the uphill climb may prove insurmountable. And then there are miracles, those wondrous earth-movers that can propel you from the “low thousands” straight up to a metaphorical million in one fell swoop.

I believe in miracles. (As I’ve said dozens of times, anyone with asthma must believe in them. How else to explain the panic of drowning, drowning, drowning, and suddenly emerging, porpoise-like, back to breath?) But miracles don’t always turn out the way we want them to. They are chimeric little things, insisting on their own mystery, only sometimes conforming to our wishes.

This does not make them any less miracles. I feel certain that miracles are softly showering us all the time; we simply don’t notice. We’re too busy under our umbrellas of busy-ness and rote activity (work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep) to take heed of the plethora of wonders landing like roses at the feet of an operatic diva.

Today, I want you to pay attention. Look up from your computer, your plate, your rake and see them: See the miracle of changing leaves, of toiling insects (do you suppose they recognize the miracles that are us, looking down at them?), of the gift of breath, warmth, love. Take heed of miracles. There are millions of them out there, right now, waiting for you.

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