Stacy Trasancos entitles one of her recent posts “Do you See Miracles?” An excellent read. It prompts my response.
To answer Stacy’s question “Do you see miracles?” I say “Yes!”
Let me briefly describe one that happened right in front of me in a most unexpected way, of course.
When my wife, Lynne, and I were newly married, we had her parents come visit us at Christmas time. On December 26, the four of us took a bus out to Texas Stadium to see the Dallas Cowboys play a game against the Chicago Bears.
After the game that ended in the cold and the dark, we returned home where I immediately took our dog out for a walk.
When I returned home I was met at the door by Lynne holding both her hands up to me with her palms facing toward her. She was crying. What I did not see right away was that the ruby from her engagement ring was not in her ring. She told me she had cut open her winter gloves, searched everywhere in her clothing and found nothing.
Her parents wanted us to call our insurance company to see if it could be replaced. I knew that it was not specifically insured and so I quickly turned our conversation to planning how we would go back to the stadium the next morning.
My confidence came from my memory of the parking lot being black asphalt, and thus more easily searchable, and from something Lynne and I knew about the ruby but her parents did not know.
For Lynne and me, the pear-shaped ruby (not this big by any means, but shaped in similar manner) was chosen specifically by us to represent a drop of the Blood of Christ. It was to be a constant reminder of our mutual commitment to following Jesus in all things. (My wedding ring contains a ruby as well for the same purpose.)
In the morning, as we made our way to the stadium, we told each other how we had slept and whether we had any dreams. Lynne’s father slept but was unaware of any dreams. Her mother dreamt of a friend who lost her ring at a theater performance while clapping. Lynne dreamt of food falling on a kitchen floor. I dreamt of an anesthesiologist friend of mine at the door of a sleeping (depressed?) woman I used to know.
I called my mom, Mary, and told her what we were doing, asking for her advice. She said we should and she would pray to St. Jude for help. I agreed and promised that if we found the ruby, I would go buy the biggest St. Jude statue I could afford to remind me of his help.
The morning was cold and foggy. The stadium parking lot was completely empty. We drove to where the bus had picked us up, thinking that the ruby was dislodged from the ring when Lynne took off her gloves to present her bus ticket. But my memory had failed me. The surface was not black asphalt. Rather is was multicolored, stone aggregate.
Not to be discouraged, Lynne and her father and I got down on our hands and knees to feel over the ground in the hope we would find it. Meanwhile Lynne’s mother stood talking about whether we should look inside the stadium. That’s when a guard came up asking what we were doing. She told him and asked about going in where we had been sitting the night before. Initially he said we’d have to talk with administrative office people clear on the other side of the stadium. But he reconsidered when he remembered that the cleaning crew was in there right then, working. He suggested we hurry. We did.
When we arrived at our row of seats, a 10-member crew was sweeping and picking up trash about 20 yards away from us on the same level, working like the guys in this image. (The image is of a group cleaning a San Diego stadium, not Texas Stadium. Just wanted you to get a sense of how they move through the rows when they are cleaning.)
Lynne and her mom went into our row followed by her dad. I hung back, almost in a trance. Two workers came over as Lynne and her parents began looking on the floor beneath our seats. “What are you looking for?” asked the crew chief. I said, “A ruby.” Lynne’s mom reacted as if I was giving out too much information to strangers. Then the other crew person asked, “What color is it?” Before I could respond, Lynne suggested I not just stand there but do something. The crew chief suggested looking in the row just below where Lynne and her parents were.
I made my way onto that row and observed the floor, littered with food, packaging, and empty cans and cups. Roasted peanut shells were everywhere. Among the shell droppings were the thin, red skins of the peanuts. I got down on my hands and knees to gentle push aside the game’s debris.
Suddenly what looked like a red skin of a peanut started getting bigger and bigger in front of my gaze. I reached for it, fully expecting it to crumble in my fingers. But it didn’t. It was the ruby, our drop of the Blood of Christ!
I rose to show everyone. Lynne let out a yell. Lynne’s parents were smiling. The crew went back to work without comment.
On the way back home, I stopped at the Catholic bookstore and bought our St. Jude statue, like the one shown below. It stands today on the window sill of my dining room where I write.
It took me a while to understand how what had happened was a miracle. Over the rest of the visit, we all talked about the improbable odds were of finding this ruby in space and time of the stadium floor and the cleaning crew.
Since I understand dreams as God’s forgotten language, I eventually realized how our separate dreams were each privately revealing pieces of a solution to finding the ruby. Like the dream of Lynne’s mom, the ruby had fallen out in the theater of play, not on the parking lot as I had projected. Like Lynne’s dream, the ruby was to be found on the stadium’s “kitchen floor” where all us fans had been stuffed together. And like my dream, I had to wake up, not be depressed about the potential loss, but step outside the room of the first row. Moreover, it took all of us, working together, just like putting the dreams together to puzzle out the ruby’s location. Even the guard and the cleaning crew encountered us like angels, not simply like uncaring or covetous strangers.
While I appreciated how much the ruby meant to Lynne and me and how much our prayers and my mom’s helped us, I could not stop there in my wondering about why this miracle had happened. Surely, it was but one more confirmation of the faith Lynne and I shared, of my mom’s faith as well.
But it was only later, after a while of repeated thanksgivings, that I realized the miracle was also meant for Lynne’s parents who do not express any understanding of faith. They come from secular backgrounds, especially in science.
My prayer, as I’m sure Lynne’s and my mom’s is as well, is that someday, Lynne’s parents will remember this miracle and see it as a sign meant for them to consider favorably.
A sign of God’s love for them as well as us.
Thanks, Stacy, for asking the question.