Keeping the faith.

I’ve discovered a new TV show on OWN to be obsessed about:  Miracle Detectives.

It’s a show about faith and searching for possible miracles — Randall is a journalist and a believer, while Indre is a scientist and a skeptic. They find and investigate stories of “mysteries that transcend logic,” trying to prove or disprove whether God is at work or something else is happening. It’s fascinating.

I need to state for the record that I’m a Christian and I believe in God. I really don’t think I could get through the day if I didn’t. But I also think believing is a wholly personal thing that I don’t share easily or readily, and it’s not up to me to make you feel differently than you do. I just know that God is all around us, that everything happens for a reason and that it’s not our circumstances we should focus on, but our behavior in and reactions to situations that are important. For me, having faith is about letting go, knowing that you don’t have to understand or push or worry. I’ve found that if you just keep the faith, meditate on what God’s told us and listen to your inner voice, it’s a whole lot less stressful than trying to make everything happen for yourself. I’ve been led places and to do things that I never could have imagined or planned. I’m not as comfortable with the word “religion” and all the ceremony, church iconography and touchy-feelyness of fellowship. I just read the words, watch a little Joyce Meyer and talk to God when I need to … then somehow it all works out.

The latest episode of Miracle Detectives is especially a doozy, since it’s about miracles surrounding 9/11. I was in New York that day and I’ve told my story, though it’s not a story like some people have. Still, I’m fiercely protective and defensive on that subject, which I suppose comes from some deep-seated desire to understand why I was there that day. Maybe I never will.

Anyway, on this episode Randall and Indre arrive in New York and talk to the firefighters of Ladder 6, who survived the collapse of Tower 1 in a stairwell after they’d stopped to help a woman. After R & I talk with a structural engineer, they learn that the stairwell was perhaps the most survivable part of the building — if the firefighters had not stopped, they would not have been in the right place at that time. Randall also talks to a firefighter who survived the collapse and while walking back to Brooklyn on the bridge met a construction worker who encouraged him to share his story. When he got to the other side of the bridge, he learned that no one else saw the companion walking with him. He thinks it was Jesus.

There are other stories too, like Bonnie McEneaney, who knew that her husband had passed when she saw the wind rustle through just one tree in her yard. You may scoff, but I’ve always believed our loved ones can communicate with us that way. Shortly after my grandfather passed away, my mom, grandmother and I sat outside on their farm. All of a sudden this rush of wind came by and swirled around us, then dissipated. You’ll never convince me that wasn’t my grandfather telling us it was okay. Similarly, I felt my grandmother’s presence in the breeze at our beach house the first time our family gathered there without her. I also think our loved ones can come to us as butterflies, hummingbirds or other animals. After they retired to the farm, my grandparents shared coffee on the porch every morning; now a red cardinal sits outside my grandmother’s kitchen while she has breakfast.

Bonnie McEneaney wrote a book about all of the supernatural events experienced by people who lost loved ones on 9/11, and she talks on the show about premonitions those people had before the event itself. It reminded me of a story my boss told me about a week after 9/11. We were discussing intuition and how children are receptive to it because they haven’t yet learned to repress it. My boss’s friend had a young son who, on the night of September 10, couldn’t sleep and woke up screaming. As his mother tried to comfort him, he just kept repeating, “So many people are going to die.” It still gives me chills.

All of those incidents might not be “miracles,” but I don’t think you can explain them away either.

Neither of the Miracle Detective episodes I’ve watched have tried to come to any conclusion — in both, actually, Randall ends up on one side of the issue (faith), and Indre on the other. I feel bad for Indre, who looks like she’s trying so desperately to prove these miracles wrong. Like she takes pleasure in determining that acts of God don’t exist. Her comments in this episode were especially sad to me — she looks at 9/11 and doesn’t see God; she only sees suffering. Certainly there was suffering that day, but I choose to think about the bravery, the sacrifice, the love and compassion and the humanity that was displayed in the face of horrifying evil. Isn’t that really what it’s all about?

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