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Some people find miracles around every corner. A good few of that number attribute the miraculous events to divine intervention in otherwise pedestrian lives. People name miracles when they escape unscathed from disasters great and small. Miracles are attested when the slow process of recovery yields to unexpected healing. Miracles are prayed for, expected, and lamented when they don’t arrive.
Littlewood’s Law of Miracles suggests that each of us should expect to experience a ‘miracle’ about once a month. A mathematics professor, Littlewood posited one experience per second and a common sense definition of miracles as noteworthy, ‘one in a million’ occurences to calculate that it would only take 35 days to accumulate more than a million experiences – and therefore, at least one miracle. The good professor wasn’t implicating the divine in these miracles, just an amazingly large number of events.
I have not set my personal expectations on divine miracles, but, even using Littlewood’s Law as a guide my life seems a bit short on miracles lately. When I cull back over the last 35 days I can’t recall any experiences that would meet the common sense definition of a miracle. I do recall thinking that I needed to jump up and dash away to retrieve my cell phone during a meeting in progress – and nearly the moment I sat down again the phone rang. I remember, too, searching for an important bit of bureaucratic paper, only to find it two days after I paid for its replacement. Both notable moments, neither one high on my list of miracles.
Perhaps what Professor Littlewood calls miracles, I find to be the effects of synchronicity – two events that have no causal relation but come together in a meaningful way. This week a professor returned unexpectedly from a long sojourn in Beirut and Lebanon to hear a sermon pondering the Eid al Adha festival he just left behind. There was no miracle in the juxtaposition of those two events, but, I choose to ascribe a bit of meaning to them. I think of it as an unplanned, warm, welcome for a highly-regarded friend. It was the welcome he should have received anyway brought to life by a pocketful of synchronicity.