Recently, I prayed for something and miraculously, I received it. For me, prayer normally occurs while sitting on my back patio, usually at night, sometimes wrapped in a blanket against the weather and lifting up to the Universe (Spirit, God etc.) whatever burdens I am carrying. Sometimes the burdens are relatively banal and sometimes they feel overwhelming. In this particular case, the burden felt overwhelming and scary and my prayer was one of desperation and surrender. It was the prayer that you send out when you don’t know what else to do and you have nowhere else to turn. It was the prayer that you send out in the vain hope that perhaps something, somewhere is listening.
While I am a person who prays and believes in a higher power of some sort, I am also pragmatic enough to concede that having this or any other prayer answered may be nothing more than mere coincidence or a stroke of good luck, and yet in that moment, it felt very much like a miracle designed just for me. I felt acutely aware of the shift that had just occurred and whether I believed that it was a miracle or sheer luck, my brain immediately began repeating the words, “thank you.”
Perhaps this belief that I have in prayer and miracles is a hangover from growing up in a Catholic community or perhaps it is just part of my innate naiveté. Whatever the origin, I can’t seem to stop myself from wanting to believe in the possibility of miracles; to continue to hope that the impossible is possible.
Our Unitarian Universalist faith community is inclusive of those who believe in a higher power of some kind and those who are agnostic, of those who believe in miracles, and those who are led by science and data. Whatever our belief, we share a common thread of hope, hoping that our work in the world will bring about the seemingly impossible task of delivering equality to those who need it. We hope that our work might be the answer to a prayer, that it will bring a sort of miracle to someone, somewhere.
In part, the idea that I don’t have to choose between a belief in miracles and a desire for facts and action is what draws me to a Unitarian Universalist faith community. I can choose to pray when things feel scary and I can also choose to use facts and logic to problem solve. Unitarian Universalism embraces the idea that these concepts can exist in tandem and can be used collectively as we move through the world and engage in our work. Unitarian Universalism invites every facet of everyone to the party.
Given the current state of our world, I am guessing that I have not been the only one sending out prayers in 2020. As we move toward 2021, I will continue to pray for and hope for miracles. I will also be following science, gathering data and looking for action oriented ways that will allow me to be part of meaningful solutions for those who are sending out prayers far more pressing than my own. I will hope that we all may finally hear the voices of those who have been praying into the void for so long without being heard; those hoping for a coincidence, a stroke of luck, or a miracle.