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ON FAITH: Be on the lookout – Miracles come in all shapes and sizes

Ed Bradley had an extraordinary career. Working as a correspondent for 26 years on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” he interviewed such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, Lena Horne, Timothy McVeigh, George Burns, and countless others. His sincerity, warmth and genuine interest in those he interviewed were apparent and seemed to encourage the interviewees to share significant parts of themselves that were rarely revealed. But apparently even a veteran interviewer like Bradley could occasionally be taken by surprise.

As author Anne Lamott in her book “Operating Instructions” tells it, some years ago a family was being interviewed by Bradley about their quest for a miracle. It seems they were a devout family consisting of a young mother in her 30s, an older and painfully shy father, and their wheelchair-bound 10-year-old daughter. Every year the little family went to Lourdes, France, where several million people travel annually to visit the Massabielle Grotto, a shrine said to be the site of many healings and miracles.

As Bradley interviewed this family he pushed them on their decision to make this annual pilgrimage. He implied it suggested gullibility to expect that the Lourdes journeys would change anything. At one point he turned to the 10-year-old girl in her wheelchair and asked her what she prayed for. She replied, “I pray that my father won’t be so shy. It makes him terribly lonely.”

Bradley’s face registered surprise at this. It was an unexpected response. But he recovered quickly and pressed on, questioning the family’s wisdom in continuing to spend thousands of dollars every year going to Lourdes when they had never received their miracle. But looking at her daughter, the young mother responded with calm assurance: “Oh, Mr. Bradley, you don’t get it. We have our miracle.”

And so they had. Ed Bradley hadn’t seen it at first, maybe because he was only prepared to credit miracles that corresponded to his own expectations. Yes, if the little girl had gotten out of her wheelchair to walk, that would have been a miracle. But preoccupied with that elusive miracle, Bradley had missed the other miracles that surely had occurred: the growing love of a disabled little girl who was more concerned for her father than for herself, a family under stress which was held firmly together by its shared faith, the tenacity of hope that brings joy and contentment even though hardships remain.

Could miracles be occurring in your life that you haven’t yet appreciated? Could God be doing something quite wonderful, but entirely different than you expected? Sometimes when old assurances fade, a terminal illness occurs, a death or divorce intrudes, or a child rebels or wanders away, we ask for the miracle we think will best restore us. But miracles come in countless shapes and sizes; they hover in the periphery of our vision, waiting to be spotted. Don’t let the miracle you envision be the only miracle you are willing to receive. Don’t let your expectations blind you to the wonders and gifts God offers in your midst, now!

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