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There are some words which are guaranteed to cause a collective intake of breath, in preparation for whatever may be coming next. Sadly, it seems this is often down to their moralist or religious overtones. The hint of impossibly high standards we could never possibly hope to reach… 
 
We’ve talked about some of them before. Forgiveness. Goodness, that’s a big one. Responsibility. Not much better and can be equally scary. Acceptance. Another biggie. And we’d better stop there… 
 
However, what we find particularly interesting, is that the meaning commonly attributed to the particular word is usually very different – or unnecessarily selective or narrow – from its dictionary definition. 
 
So, this week, we’re going to put another one of those words under the spotlight. Dig out the dictionary, see what it really means. And, more importantly, whether this tallies with our own particular understanding. 
 
Ready? Then here we go. 
 
 
The picture gives it away (!), but we'll still say it. Miracle. 
 
And, yes, we can hear the collective intake of breath from here… 
 
Moving quickly on (!), here are some definitions from a variety of dictionaries: 
 
“An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.” 
 
“A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences.” 
 
“An exceptional product or achievement or an outstanding example of something.” 
 
“An event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being, magic, a miracle worker, a saint, or a religious leader.” 
 
While we’re looking online, let’s also take a look at where the word actually comes from. And there are no prizes for guessing it’s from Latin (!). Mirus, meaning wonderful. Mirari, to wonder. Miraculum, an object of wonder. It then moves into Old French and finally arrives in Middle English as miracle. 
 
So, going back to the definitions, what do they all have in common? 
 
Well, that a miracle is extraordinary, welcome, wonderful. And, just as important, not explicable by natural or scientific laws. It’s hardly surprisingly it quickly gained such strong religious overtones… 
 
Now we know what the dictionary definition of miracle is, it’s time to look at it from a slightly different perspective. So, let’s start with the big caveat. Not explicable by current natural or scientific laws. 
 
Why? 
 
Well, leaving aside the religious connotations, have you ever thought that what we’d consider a miracle changes with time? What’s commonplace now, would have seemed miraculous even a few years – or decades – ago. Let alone by our ancestors. 
 
And we’re not just thinking about all the technological gizmos we take for granted. How about some of the things we hardly ever stop to think about? Electricity. Well, until a power cut and it’s not available. Just think what a miracle electric light would have been to our ancestors. Touching a switch and the room being flooded with light for as long as we wanted… 
 
What about cars or aeroplanes, allowing large distances to be travelled quickly and with ease? Or some of the other “big steps” forward that have changes our lives beyond all recognition over the last century. 
 
Then, what about some of the smaller things we equally take for granted? Water on tap, pardon the pun (!). Fresh food all year round. Eating fresh strawberries in winter or ice cream in the summer. Each is a miracle in its own way… 
 
Which leads us neatly on to the other aspect of miracles we wanted to look at today. And that’s that they have to be BIG. Yes, REALLY BIG. Show stoppers. Come with a fanfare and all the razzmatazz. 
 
If you look at the definitions again, there’s no mention of them having to be BIG. Wonderful, yes. Welcome, yes. Big, no. 
 
When you start looking at miracles from this different perspective, suddenly they’re not so remote and unattainable. It puts the emphasis back where it should be. On them being wonderful and unexpected. And instantly plugs us back into the magic of life. 
 
It lets us see all those small and seemingly random / inexplicable events in a completely different light. As miracles in their own right. We just didn’t recognise them as such. Or simply dismissed them as serendipity or good luck. The unanticipated help from someone. Things that suddenly “appeared” just as we wanted or needed them. The call from a friend or family member at the right time, with the details we needed. The advert or article that caught our eye with exactly what we were looking for. 
 
True, most of the miracles we experience are small; although we all have stories of much larger ones that happen from time to time. However, regardless of their size, they tick all the boxes. Extraordinary. Welcome. Wonderful. Not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Making our lives flow much more easily. Helping us in the right direction at the right time. 
 
So, isn’t it time to notice and, more importantly, appreciate the seemingly small miracles that come our way every day? Regaining a little of our natural wonder at the magic of life. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
Picture by unknown artist 
 
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