Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Miracles: A Report From The Field

     "I wonder where they took Ted's body," Rachel said quietly.
     Devin shrugged. "If they free me, I'll call his office and ask his secretary tomorrow. If they jail me, you will."
     "They're not going to jail you, bro." Andrew's face was stern.
     "Who's going to stop them, Drew? You? Going to knock all their heads together, and then start on the bailiffs?"
     Andrew winced and shut his eyes tightly. Devin was stricken with regret for his words, but he could not retract them.
     He can't protect me any more, and it's eating him up.
     "There are no miracles, Drew. The age of miracles is long past. We have to make do with men, now. In a little while, twelve good men and true are going to march in here and tell me what's what, and that'll be that. Relax and get used to it."
     "You're wrong, bro." Andrew's voice shook. "There are miracles. I was present at one. And maybe I'll be present at another. Do you know how to make yourself worthy of a miracle? You stand straight and you live clean. You go to face your enemy with your war paint on and your weapons in hand. You dare him to do his worst, and you give him the best you've got in you. You don't give up."

     [From The Sledgehammer Concerto]

     I, too, have been present at a miracle. In fact, I was a participant in one just yesterday. And I’m here to tell you all about it.

     It’s been said, and truly, that there was never a man so rich that he didn’t need money – and usually, the more he had, the more he needed. As of a few weeks ago – partly owing to my having married an accountant – I found that that bit of wisdom applied to me.

     He who needs money will normally go to his bank, which I did. He applies for a loan, which I did. He awaits the approval of his application, which I did. When I was notified that my application had been approved, I contacted the bank about scheduling the closing. ‘Twas then I received a surprise.

     I was told that owing to the Kung Flu pandemic, the closing would be “virtual.” It would involve computers, digital cameras and microphones, and “Zoom.” I make no pretensions to pulchritude and never have, but my home office...let’s just say that just now, owing to the extensive ongoing renovations taking place here at the Fortress, to call it “disheveled” would do it a great compliment. The “virtual closing” would perforce involve both the sight of my unattractive (at best) mug and a peek into my home office. Atop that, I have a formless but considerable fear of banks and closings, owing to certain experiences of which I will decline to speak.

     To make a long story somewhat shorter, the “virtual closing” took place yesterday, without a hitch. That, despite my never having participated in any such thing before, a mountain of forms to be read and signed, the requirement for the use of “Zoom,” a program of which I knew little, and my aforementioned fear of banks and closings. It started on time. All the technology involved worked perfectly, including some that had only just been purchased and installed. It was over in an hour, involved no suffering of any kind, and resulted in my being granted the use of a large sum of the bank’s money for no consideration other than my agreement to repay it over time, at a modest rate of interest. My relief at the conclusion was beyond my ability to capture it even in the most extravagant metaphor.

     But that’s not the miracle of which I speak.

     The bank officer at the closing was a young woman whom I’ll call Nicole, because that’s her name. She was utterly the master of all the procedures involved, but then, you would expect that of someone authorized to lend out large sums of the bank’s money. She knew every jot and tittle of all the documents involved, what needed to be signed or initialed, what needed to be scanned and emailed at once, what needed to be returned to the bank physically, and so forth. Once again, you’d expect that of a loan officer, and I suppose I did.

     But I did not expect Nicole.

     Nicole was so incredibly patient with this awkward, uncertain old man, considerate of his fears and willing to listen to him talk, that once again, words fail me. Yet she said, offhandedly, that she averages five such closings per day. Incredible! One such closing – the procedure alone, to say nothing of the novelty of the procedure – had me shaking. Yet she led me though it without the slightest ripple of discomfort at any stage. She even guided me through the repackaging of the return documents in the FedEx envelope. The closing was over in an hour. The return package was in a FedEx drop box less than half an hour after that.

     If that wasn’t a miracle, I can’t imagine what would qualify.

     So! You want to know why there aren’t any miracles these days, eh, hero? You demand to see proof of the divine? You maintain that your atheism is “rational” while our theism is mere superstition? All this, though your contention is as unprovable as ours? So we must prove our stance, else you’ll continue to slather your spittle-filled contempt over us uneducated lowbrow theists?

     Have you ever considered the possibility that your unwillingness to allow that there are miracles has rendered you unworthy of one – perhaps insulated from them? Or have you considered the possibility that you’ve ignored the miracles in your life? That they’ve passed unnoticed because you were either inattentive to them or unwilling to acknowledge their miraculousness? That they might just have been embodied as people?

     Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow, including Nicole.

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

Which is why I look askance at those who complain about young people. Despite the chuckleheads (ALL young are chuckleheads at some point), MOST of the young are perfectly capable, like Nicole.

And, like Nicole, they have managed to master the tools they need to conduct their lives.

All my kids support themselves. They've built lives for themselves that include people who love them. They drive their sensible, owned cars with care. They vote. They pay taxes. They care for vulnerable people in their lives (kin, children, aging friends).

And, they are NOT alone. I'm surrounded by wonderful people, of all ages.