Ordinary Miracles

A couple Sundays ago at church, the priest was giving a captivating homily. In it he had mentioned his ill mother, who had just turned 99 years old. In the pew in front of me were two women. One leaned to the other and whispered, “Wow!” At first I thought, No big deal. I’ve known of people who’ve lived well into their nineties. People in my fiancée’s family tend to live long, and my own grandmother is 88 and physically healthy. But what that lady’s “Wow!” was about was an awe-filled recognition of God’s miracles.

I’ll admit that I tend to be a bit cavalier about things like very old ages, 50th wedding anniversaries, or new babies. It’s not that I don’t care, but I just don’t get caught up in the ooh-ing and ahh-ing. These events are just part of life, right? Babies are born every day. People live long enough to celebrate 50th anniversaries and 90-something birthdays. What I’ve come to realize is that those moments I’ve so easily dismissed are the miracles of everyday life!
Yes, birth and aging are as ordinary as can be, but God shows up in the ordinary. We ought to celebrate the awesome ability for a human being to have lived and experienced a century! We ought to praise God for the miracle of forming an amazingly and extremely complex conscious organism in just nine month’s time! Despite the fact that these things happen all the time they still carry a miraculous character that captivates us—or should.

I think of St. Ignatius on the river Cardoner, where he experienced a profound moment of God. His autobiography says that, “the eyes of his understanding were opened.” At that moment, Ignatius had, I believe, an insight of God’s ordinary miracles. I think he was captivated by the fact that all he had learned and experienced before—the ordinary stuff—now had miraculous meaning, divine meaning. Joseph Tylenda, SJ, a commentator on Ignatius’s autobiography, says, “[Ignatius] now perceived everything in its proper relationship to God.” Everything was no longer ordinary and plain, but it was awe-filled and miraculous, because it came from God. The “Wow!” from the woman at church, then, was a brief audible appreciation of ordinary miracles.


  1. We experience ordinary miracles everyday, it is true. Some are profound and stay with you at least for a time. I was recently feeling overwhelmed. I (and my husband and 4 children) care for my basically totally dependent mom, who lives with us. I was wondering how I was going to keep up this pace…if it was something we could really manage.
    The thoughts were depressing me. In that same day, I walked into my mom’s room and saw my 10 year old sitting in the hospital bed with his grandmother reading to her from a children’s book I read to him when he was younger. After I had given her a shower and fixed her hair, I asked my 12 year old if grandma looked beautiful. He said “That special lady always looks beautiful. ” That same day my husband, 14 & 16 year olds all showed such love and kindness to this lady who often can not even recall their names. These are the miracles of every day that have me thanking God for his compassion and the strength to go on.

  2. Today at my 4am adoration. In the still of the morning while the world is still asleep I am able to praise the Lord and be in His almighty presence. Then at 4:45am one little bird is chirping in the distance and then a symphony starts as they wake up the rest of the world . What a amazing gift from God. These beautiful moments. Thank you Jesus

  3. As I work through my own life “Ordinary Miracles”, today, for me, mean the realization that God does intervene in my life. He intervenes as he sees fit and not as I wish . A common struggle in my relationship with Him is to see that everything that comes from Him is good and the key is that I decide the meaning I attach to events in my life. To come to the realization that His plans are better than mine. To open my eyes and see the constant miracle of every moment of our journey through this phase of our existence. I believe Lord but increase my faith.

  4. I was struck by this line: “[Ignatius] now perceived everything in its proper relationship to God.” which reminded me of a very Ignatian line from poet John O’Donohue: “Take refuge in your senses, open up to all the miracles you rushed through.”
    Now as my students are getting ready to graduate, it’s a good reminder not to rush through (or rush around) this time with them!

  5. Good read. There is a plethora of wow out there, we just need to open our eyes and take it in. This week take time to look around, the miracles are right in front of us.


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