Walter Williams was not only dead, he was already in a body bag awaiting embalming at the local mortuary…and then he started moving! The county coroner, Dexter Howard had two reactions:
“The only reasonable explanation he could think of, Howard said, is that Williams’ defibrillator, implanted beneath the skin on his chest, jump-started his heart after he was placed in the body bag.
“It could’ve kicked in, started his heart back,” Howard said. “The bottom line is it’s a miracle.”
But is it really a miracle? Can something have a “reasonable explanation” and also be a miracle? For me the answer is clearly yes.
I can “reasonably explain” the process from conception to birth, but I still experienced the birth of each of our 3 daughters as genuinely miraculous. I can reasonably explain the process which creates the oceans and the starry nights I recently shared on a trip with my wife, but there too, I used the word miraculous. I can probably even reasonably explain the love I feel for my wife and children, but that too is miraculous in ways I try to remember each and every day.
What defines a miracle, for me at least, whether one attributes it to God or any particular supernatural power, is an event the experience of which cannot be fully explained by reason, and for which we are deeply grateful. The miraculous is the product of experiencing the powerful combination of our own limits and the limitless possibilities in life.
Walter Williams’ family knows all that, which is why they are not debating whether or not his resurrection, if you want to call it that, is a “real” miracle or not. They simply rejoice in the event, and imagine that whatever word helps to best capture their joy and gratitude is the one to use. For them, “miracle” is just fine.
What counts as miraculous for you? And if the answer is nothing, do you ever wonder about what may be lost when we live without any sense of the miraculous?
All I know is that fighting about definitions as opposed to embracing experiences is generally a waste of time, which is why I embrace miracles and the miraculous whenever I am able to encounter either.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.