Ripe for a miracle

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, December 2010

’Tis the season when the heart softens and the world yearns to be a better place.

Winter has arrived once again, painting gloomy beauty on the city and sealing it in with a varnish of rain. The landscape has dwindled to its semi-dormant state and muscled clouds hang low on most days. Night falls early, long before the last tired commuter has made it back home.

It’s a weary season for the heart as well: Another year of time has been used up and still all the pressing issues, both local and global, remain as jammed as ever. Ten years into the new millennium, we’ve solved few problems and thwarted few wars. We’ve suffered an economic crisis that continues to hurt everyone except those who caused it. Democracy seems to be eroding in the face of greed, corruption, and all of the double standards that are increasingly bold and commonplace. As for the environment and its urgent need for cleaning, we can’t even pick up the metaphorical broom. No wonder the blanket of bleakness is heavy.

But then something amazing happens. Someone lights a candle, someone opens an advent calendar or unpacks a menorah, and once again hope starts flickering somewhere deep inside. So begins a festival of promise and light that always comes just when the year is at its most sombre. This is Christmas, along with Hanukah and the many other spiritual and cultural celebrations of renewal that take place during this “Christmas season.” This is the month for miracles, and surely we’re ripe for one now.

The Oxford dictionary describes a miracle as being both “an extraordinary event attributed to some extraordinary agency” and “any remarkable occurrence.” While some may find the first definition uncomfortably out of place in this era of homage to all things provable, the concept of “any remarkable occurrence” allows for all possibility including that which comes from within. And therein lies the first and perhaps most compelling miracle of Christmas, which is that most of the hundreds of ways in which we celebrate are motivated by an intrinsic understanding that a groundswell of goodness can shape the world into a better place.

Also miraculous is the annual resurgence of belief that one person can make a palpable difference, that a mountain can be moved one cup of dirt at a time if there are enough people with cups and conviction. Victoria is full of generosity at Christmas, evident in all the well-supported functions and funds that combine fun and festivity with the means to initiate change for both today and tomorrow. There are parades and concerts, readings and galas, even a non-gala hosted by Our Place this year. There are decorated ships in the harbour, heavenly choirs in the places of worship and brightly lit trees everywhere. Turkeys are roasted by the dozen and served in great halls by a legion of volunteers. Toys and food are collected and redistributed with no strings attached. By no means are we fixing everything, but for the moment, cynicism, which alone accomplishes nothing, is dispatched to the back of the mind.

At a very personal level—and society is built on life at this level—wondrous change can take place when the heart softens, when new perspectives are considered and new possibilities pondered. Could this be the year to mend a quarrel or renew a neglected friendship? To listen carefully, speak softly, keep a promise, let go of a grudge, be grateful, be kind, laugh out loud, make someone laugh, speak out against wrongdoing, live in the present (the advent calendar can help), and reach out to someone who’s sad or alone? Perhaps this is the season to discover that enduring change can come out of the most ordinary activities—an hour spent with a child, the environment valued, an injustice condemned, a petition signed, and peace always kept sacred.

In the dark of winter and the light of Christmas, the world yearns to be a better place. This is the season for miracles, and for believing that we have the power to make then happen.

Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic finds it a miracle that she can be both an adult and child at Christmas.