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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Rabbi David A. Cooper: Invoking Angels


Happenings and Miracles

There is an order to the universe, both in terms of our scientific understanding of the laws of physics and in terms of our ordinary daily experience of nature. We all know that a fish out of water will soon die; we do not need physics to explain it. Moreover, the fish out of water is our metaphor for anything out of its place in the “natural” flow of things.

The natural flow, the unfolding of each moment, follows a series of laws that give this continuous flow orderliness and, to some extent, predictability. Higher science often determines events in the context of probabilities. While all events can be viewed through a lens of scientific inquiry, they can also be experienced in more mystical terms, as processes operating on many planes.

The realm of angels is built upon a fundamental assumption: every thing that exists is an expression of a life-giving force that is indescribable, unknowable, and boundless. Anything we try to think about with regard to this is, by definition, less than it. Comparing the thinking mind to Ein Sof (Boundlessness) is like comparing the width of a razor’s edge to the distance of a trillion light-years.

The mind, however, does experience each moment as it unfolds. It experiences reality in its own unique way, coloring incidents with its own conditioning, its predilections, its judgments, desires, dislikes, and so forth. Still, we experience life as we see it, in a wide variety of happenings. When our minds try to explain how things happen and why things happen, we come up with many ideas. If an event goes beyond anything that fits our natural way of seeing things, we put it into a category of a miraculous happening.

Actually, a great deal of life is inexplicable, and small miracles abound. Life itself is a miracle. The ordinary happenings of everyday experiences—our health, our relationships, our food, our shelter—these abundances are enormous. Usually we do not fully recognize the nature of these small miracles until one of them disappears. Once gone, however, we suddenly realize how casual and nonchalant we are about the necessities of life that nurture us and protect us every day.

Ironically, most miracles work in hidden ways. When a fast-moving automobile has a front tire blow, for example, and we are fifty feet ahead of or behind that car as it swerves out of control, this “near miss” is a big miracle. Had we been alongside the car when it began to swerve out of control, anything could have happened. Do we notice that? Do we call it a miracle? Can we say our guardian angel was watching over us?

When the full airplane does not have engine failure, when the jammed holiday cruise ship stays steady in a storm, when the crowded building does not burst into flames, we think nothing of it. It is natural to assume things will go fine all the time. Only later might someone discover a loose fuel line that could easily have exploded in the airplane’s engine, or an almost-sheared pin on the engine shaft of the boat that if broken would have caused a dangerous loss of control in the storm, or the leak in the gas main of the building discovered just in time—these are all miracles that go unnoticed.

We read in our daily newspapers or see on television all the times when there were no hidden miracles and tragedies resulted. But for every event in the news, there are unrecorded millions of potential events that never happen. When things go well, as they most often do, it is a powerful experience to consider our good fortune. When we do, we cannot help but be enormously grateful. In this gratitude, we automatically open our hearts and minds to the marvel of hidden blessings of both big and small miracles that fill our lives. This daily gratitude is a major step in connecting ourselves with the hidden, unknown realms of fate and fortune that continually play a dramatic role in our everyday lives.

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