Mir­a­cles Ma­jor and Mi­nor

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

We use the word 'Mir­a­cle' far too of­ten, don't you think? I mean, it would be a mir­a­cle if a day went by with­out some­one some­where pro­claim­ing, “It's a mir­a­cle”, or at least “It's quite mirac­u­lous!” But mir­a­cles, no mat­ter how com­mon-or-gar­den they are, should not be taken for granted. St Lu­cia is of course con­sid­ered a Catholic coun­try where the pop­u­la­tion is said to ad­here to the teach­ings of the Catholic Church, which is pretty strong on mir­a­cles, so I may be preach­ing to the con­verted.

Have you ever con­sid­ered the def­i­ni­tion of a mir­a­cle? A mir­a­cle is “an ex­tra­or­di­nary and wel­come event that is not ex­pli­ca­ble by nat­u­ral or sci­en­tific laws and is there­fore at­trib­uted to a di­vine agency” says one source, while an­other less rigid source might main­tain that “the word mir­a­cle is of­ten used to char­ac­ter­ize any ben­e­fi­cial event that is sta­tis­ti­cally un­likely but not con­trary to the laws of na­ture, such as sur­viv­ing a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, or sim­ply a won­der­ful oc­cur­rence, re­gard­less of like­li­hood, such as a birth. Other mir­a­cles might be: over­com­ing an ill­ness di­ag­nosed as ter­mi­nal, es­cap­ing a lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion or 'beat­ing the odds'. Some co­in­ci­dences may be seen as mir­a­cles.”

No sin­gle reli­gion has a mo­nop­oly on mir­a­cles by the way. A Jewish scholar might write, “The com­mon He­brew word for mir­a­cle is “nes”, which trans­lates as some­thing that is raised up or el­e­vated. For ex­am­ple, a flag­pole upon which a ban­ner is raised is also called a “nes”. So a mir­a­cle is an el­e­vated and el­e­vat­ing event. It is some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary that hap­pens, where we see G-d's hand clearly.” The scholar goes on to ex­plain that “Or­di­nar­ily, when we look around us, we are not priv­i­leged to see G-d work­ing openly. How­ever, it is tough to ar­gue with a mir­a­cle—a su­per­nat­u­ral event that in­di­cates strongly that G-d is at work. When we wit­ness a mir­a­cle, we are el­e­vated. We have been given new in­sight into the mean­ing of the or­di­nary events in our life, and we re­al­ize that they too are re­ally G-d's work.”

Ob­vi­ously, for some, the word be­hind the n-word is not the only word that can­not be ut­tered; for some the god word be­comes the “g-d” word, but I'll not go into that right now.

The 17th cen­tury scholar Rabbi Tzvi Ashke­nazi ex­plains that what we re­fer to as na­ture is ac­tu­ally mirac­u­lous and “un­nat­u­ral.” It is only be­cause “nat­u­ral” events hap­pen all the time that we take them for granted. He asked his read­ers to cast their minds back to the time when the Jews were in the desert for forty years af­ter the ex­o­dus from Egypt and manna rained down from the sky each morn­ing. A child that was born in the desert and saw his food rain down from the sky daily would not be sur­prised at all and would think it per­fectly nor­mal!

Well maybe, but sorry, it's pretty mirac­u­lous that any­one would be­lieve that food fell from the sky each morn­ing in the first place. Maybe our gulli­bil­ity in be­liev­ing in such mir­a­cles is what is pretty mirac­u­lous. The ad­vances of science il­lus­trate how ut­terly amaz­ing are the most or­di­nary ev­ery­day pro­cesses such as the devel­op­ment of a seed into a tree or an em­bryo into a com­plete hu­man be­ing.

By the way, the Tal­mud, a cen­tral text of Rab­binic Ju­daism, ex­plains that “The one to whom the mir­a­cle is hap­pen­ing, does not rec­og­nize the mir­a­cle,” which brings me to what I wanted to write about to­day: the hos­pi­tal at Ta­pion.

While var­i­ous gov­ern­ments have spent mil­lions upon mil­lions of dol­lars in build­ing and barely com­plet­ing, or not com­plet­ing at all, grandiose hos­pi­tal projects for pa­tients with ev­ery imag­in­able med­i­cal, phys­i­cal, or men­tal af­flic­tion, the good folk at Ta­pion have qui­etly gone about the busi­ness they started in 1996 – yes, next year they will have been op­er­at­ing for 20 years – of pro­vid­ing what at first was per­ceived as a ser­vice for the wealthy few but by now has be­come a vi­able op­tion for St. Lu­cians from all walks of life.

Yes, yes; peo­ple grum­ble at costs; they gos­sip about al­leged mis­takes and ru­moured mis­di­ag­noses be­cause that's what peo­ple do. Sadly some do not see or ap­pre­ci­ate the mir­a­cle that un­folds it­self ev­ery day as the hos­pi­tal – pos­si­bly unique of its kind in the Caribbean – greets ev­ery dawn by go­ing about the busi­ness of pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent health care to those who seek it, and the doc­tors mirac­u­lously stretch their days and nights to cover Vic­to­ria and St. Jude's as well, which some­times makes them a lit­tle late for ap­point­ments at Ta­pion. Mir­a­cles should not be taken for granted.

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