The Bible, Quran and other scripture are filled with stories about miracles. Today, these acts seem to be few and far between. This week's clergy take on the concept of modern-day miracles.
Sister Antoinette DeAveiro, Order of Preachers, councilor for Charism, Dominican Sisters, Holy Cross Congregation, Amityville:
There is evidence of miracles all around us. Life is a miracle. To be able to wake up each morning and hear, taste and smell is a miracle. The ability to think and feel is a miracle. Many things that appear to be coincidences may be miracles in disguise.
When I experience a near accident on the parkway and come away unhurt, I say "thank you" to God for that small miracle. In this whole wide world, bumping into a long-lost friend has to be a miracle. Being there when someone needs you, needs a shoulder to lean on, advice or aid is a miracle.
To be able to love and be loved is a miracle. Sustaining love is never easy. Having friends and family who love you, which is necessary for sustaining life, is a miracle. We . . . take these gifts for granted. There is evidence of miracles all around us. We need to recognize them.
The world is a busy place now. I think we get busy and forget to appreciate the miracles in our life. When you take the time, you will recognize them. People think a miracle has to be extraordinary, but they tend to happen in the ordinary things in life. It is up to us to slow down and recognize them.
The Rev. Dan Fritz, interim pastor, Presbyterian Community Church, Massapequa:
I would start by telling them of my personal experiences where I have seen healing take place. One such instance was a lady who had cancer and didn't have long to live. She was desperate and lonely. I had the chance to talk with her and pray with her. About two weeks later, she came to the church all happy and bouncy to tell me "Here I am. I am cured." It was because of her faith that she was cured.
People think of the larger miracles that are tests -- like burning bushes and the parting of the water. But, there are smaller miracles every day. Look at the rebirth and regeneration of the world around us. Think about the miracle of human birth. What about the instances of things that happen that can't be explained?
When people ask for proof of miracles, they're seeking reassurance. They want to know that something is happening, confirmation that something has happened. Many of us prayed superstorm Sandy wouldn't hit, but it did. It hit the church and the homes of parishioners. That's when people get upset and don't understand why things don't happen just as they prayed. We begin to walk the fine line that some things you pray for aren't meant to be. Things may be evolving for another reason. To pray for proof is questioning God. Instead, pray for God's intervention for the good of mankind.
Abbot Kendo Rich Hart, Clear Mountain Zen Center, West Hempstead:
We are not against the traditional idea of miracles: the burning bush, the parting of the waters, healings and bringing dead people back to life. We just believe the real miracles are around us all the time. Before we go off into magical, mystical concepts, let's look at everyday life. It is not an issue of right or wrong. As Buddhists, we do not deny that such things happen, but we see everyday life as an enormous miracle, things like a baby being born, the sun that shines and . . . the four elements that sustain us. All these things work to keep us alive and do the work necessary to end suffering, which is what Buddhists strive to do.
Perhaps people seek miracles because they are afraid to deal with the realities of everyday life. There are things that are very painful, very difficult and cause suffering. If you are constantly searching for miracles, you are not taking your place as human here on earth.
The Buddhist ideal is to be in touch with everything that is happening in everyday life rather than try to escape it in some mystical realm. As Buddhists, all the things we struggle with are in one realm. There is another realm, which when we are fully engaged in it, brings an end to suffering. We move from a mind that is twisted to a mind that is functioning naturally.
We believe in reincarnation. For Buddhists, the afterlife is the next life we choose to move into. The main focus of Buddhists is to bring about an end to suffering. For those looking for miracles, I'd say to look at the miracles around you. Instead of searching for miracles, look to put an end to suffering.