Monday, April 11, 2011

A Few Miracles to Start Your Week Off Right

Have you heard of the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha and the worldwide phenomenon of his statues drinking milk? Yep. It happened in 1995 and 2006, and again in 2010 in Trinidad. Other murtis (images) also drank, but the miracles started with a statue of Ganesha, and they seem to have been focused on such images, or at least the events were reported that way. Ganesha is beloved of a great number of Hindus, and he appears in the temples on many other gods.

The usual nonsense, mass hysteria, was called in by scientists to save the day, but I don't feel terribly hysterical as I watch the video. Nor do those making offerings. I tend to think that certain personality types feel threatened by phenomena not easily or instantly explained by science. I understand if you feel an emotional need to contain the world within mechanistic models of prediction, but you don't have to try to convince the rest of us. I'm comfortable with a certain amount of unpredictability in the world around me. In fact, the lack is a comfort in itself. If that's troubling to you, I offer all my sympathy and compassion, but please don't depend on my agreement, or that of anyone else, to get you to sleep tonight. You can't have complete control over external circumstances, no matter how strong your need may be.

"Capillary action" is another explanation. It's funny, I can back you up on temporary changes in the laws of physics, but I don't think that the notion really fits into your worldview. How is it that this miracle only occurred on certain days?

Let me tell you as story. My mother was an elementary school student in Athens, Greece. One hot afternoon, when she was coming home for a siesta (a wise practice, by the way), she found images of the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus on all windows. Some women were scrubbing the glass with soap to try to get them off. People were out in the hot sun wondering at the images. In a few hours, they disappeared.

The way Mom told it, scientists showed up and examined the windows, seeming more distressed than all the others. Their verdict? An effect of the light, and of course, mass hysteria. My mother, an extremely practical woman, thought that the conclusion was all nonsense, since she knew what she saw. Her first-hand experience was not at all in line with those trying to explain the phenomenon away.

So in that context, here's a video from 1994, a statue of the Virgin Mary miraculously opening and closing her eyes. This eventually made its way to Sicilian TV.

Let me tell you another story. More than a decade ago, I was helping an antiques dealer do an estate sale in the house of a woman who had died of cancer. An estate sale, if you don't know, is one set up in the house itself, rather than moving the stuff to an auction or whatever. This friend was a rather hyper and willy-nilly sort of person, so when we were in the bedroom where the woman had passed on, she hit the "talk" button of an intercom and said, "Hello?"

A confused, elderly voice responded, "H-h-h-ello?" You can bet my hair stood on end! Oh @#$%!

We ran to the kitchen, where the other intercom had been placed, to see if anyone else was in the house. Nobody. And the doors were all locked.

My friend returned to her labors with increased speed. When, about a half an hour later, I said, "That was weird, huh?" She repeated in a frantic tone, "Nothing happened. Nothing Happened. Nothing Happened."

I learned something. I knew what had happened, though I wouldn't try to explain it. She did too, but she chose to deny it. Some people simply can't cope with such things, so they pretend that they didn't happen. Just another peek at the amazing variety among people.

I think that reality's unpredictability is a comfort. Just think: If you can hold all of the universe in your mind, how much pressure do you feel to make decisions, to be the god of your universe and to manipulate it? 

We're all subject to external circumstances, like it or not. You can choose to deny the fact, or you can acknowledge the world around you with all its bewildering, troubling complexity. When it comes to adaption, when it comes to survival, doesn't it seem more effective to accept the world as it is? If there are unexplained phenomena, if there are miracles, you're wasting your energy denying them. Just go with the flow. If you let go, you'll thrive in the end.

If, after all, this is a magical universe, maybe you can be magical too. Now there's an interesting idea. Yes, you can do magic. Don't forget that, and don't fear the world. You can do magic.

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