Friday, July 24, 2009

The power of small miracles

Many fascinating stories are told about what can be called the power of small miracles. That is when a simple, almost insignificant word or remark or incident, something which we hear or see or experience as if for the first time, can unexpectedly cause the clouds of darkness to lift and disappear from our lives - helping us, almost in an instant, to overcome a paralyzing depression, to regain our sense of reality and to start living again with new hope, joy and excitement.

In this regard, just this week, someone told me the wonderful story of the theologian Jurgen Moltmann’s miraculous survival in a prison camp during the Second World War. Unable to cope with the reality of war and the harrowing circumstances in the camp at the time, Moltmann fell into a deep depression. In his own words: “Everything in and around me became darkness. Life lost its meaning. I had no desire or energy to get up in the morning, or even to wash my face or shave. I became like a living corpse”.

And then one morning while he was labouring with some of the other prisoners in the muddy courtyard, cleaning up the dirt and filth, something unusual moved him to look up. At that moment his eyes fell on a chestnut tree in the distance, which was standing in full bloom. This unexpected sight, which almost had the quality of a vision, suddenly reminded him of the miracle of life. It became a ray of new light pouring into his life, lifting the cloud of darkness and reviving his spirit. Looking back on this event, Moltmann always recognised it as a turning point in his life, a moment of enlightenment, a small but powerful miracle, offered to him by the God of life.

Most of us know these times of darkness and depression, those periods when life loses it meaning and attraction – when you can’t sleep at night, when fear and anxiety rules and when long forgotten memories appear, making you feel miserable and worthless. Perhaps Moltmann’s story is a reminder that we should never lose hope, that we should keep looking out for those small miracles which can change our moods and even our lives in an instant. Because they are always there…waiting to be discovered…and to be shared.

Carel Anthonissen

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