“28 seconds…the crowd going insane…Kharlamov shooting into the American end again…McClanahan is there…the puck is still loose…11 seconds! You’ve got 10seconds! Countdown going on right now!…Morrow up to Silk… Five seconds left in the game! … DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? YES! (Al Michaels, sportscaster)
People say to me all the time, “I remember exactly where I was when I saw the Miracle on Ice.” Usually when people say something like that, they’re talking about a tragedy. “I remember where I was on September 11.” “I remember where I was when I heard the space shuttle had exploded: But this was a positive moment – not just in sports history, but American history.” Dan Brooks (coach’s son)
The “Miracle on Ice” was the against-all-odds victory of the American hockey team over the heavily favored team from the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Twenty-nine years later there was another “miracle,” one that took place not on ice, but on water. It was on New York City’s Hudson River that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed a disabled plane full of passengers with no fatalities – an occurrence that became known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” Every day we see evidence of the “miracle of modern medicine” when health care professionals ply their trade with the help of medication and technology that was unheard of just a short time ago.
What these and other “miracles” have in common is that they are not the kind of magic with which the word ‘miracle’ is often associated; they are not the result of heavenly intervention. These miracles were/are the product of hard work, intense training, skilled execution, and, perhaps, a good bit of holy luck. This is not to say that the “hand of God” is not involved when amazing things take place; rather, it is an acknowledgement of the fact that the spiritual presence to which the word ‘God’ refers, most often works not apart from our efforts, but through them.
“Pray to God and row like hell for shore” is a saying that speaks to this truth. When faced with daunting tasks, it is natural to call upon a presence/strength/power that we may believe will move and guide us safely and effectively, but the work is ours to do. In his own down-to-earth way, humorist and philosopher Mark Twain said something that tangentially applies: “Opportunity is often missed because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
We may miss the opportunity to see miracles if we understand them only as instances of divine intervention rather than the result of divinity’s yeast-like presence. The unlikely victory, the unbelievable outcome, the evolution of knowledge and skill are all everyday miracles in their own amazing, wonderful, often subtle, embedded in the human way.