The Harmony of Healing

A person's hands and lower arms: the hands touch at the fingertips, palms separated, pointed upwards as if in prayer.

The Congregational minister stopped me in the aisle of the supermarket a few months after I had unexpectedly recovered from a serious illness. With a gentle but slightly teasing smile he asked me, “How does a Unitarian deal with a miracle?”

It was a good question, one which I thought about a lot. I started by asking myself more questions.

What is a miracle?

An event that fills us with wonder.

Is a miracle supernatural?

That depends on how one defines supernatural. Traditionally, supernatural has been defined as something beyond the natural, an intervention from outside. But the supernatural also might be defined as that which is most perfectly natural, that which is whole, that which is completely true to its purpose in nature. In this sense, the Eden of the ancient story was supernatural. In this sense, the occasion when a body is allowed to heal itself, and does, is supernatural. Not all bodies will heal themselves. But on those occasions when everything within the wider body is working together—the tremendous skill and caring of the doctors and nurses, the encouragement and love and strength-giving acts of family and friends, the amazing healing powers of the human body itself, and the patient but passionate life-loving spirit within oneself—then this definition of a miracle may apply.

What does a Unitarian Universalist do with a miracle?

She does what all humans do in the presence of wonder. She gives thanks.