Selected Essays

Magical Moments

I love literary twists of fate, surprise endings that make me ponder or smile and other forms of irony in the written word. I love real-life irony better. It keeps me on my toes. Just when I think this or that is going to happen, fate serves up something else causing me to pucker lips and shake my head, smiling wryly.

It is satisfying to witness and experience the unpredictability of life, a universe packed with surprise and magical moments. On the other hand, I cannot get my head around magic. It requires overriding or countermanding universal laws of physics, which makes it impossible and illogical to my Spockian left brain.

I also find miracles unsatisfying, though less problematic than magic. While akin to magic, they ostensibly happen due to divine intervention. I am not opposed to the authenticity of miracles given that if omnipotent powers—God or gods—exist, then they can supersede the laws they enacted. Still, it does not seem fair since laws should bind all, including those who create them. But then, fair is a human value.

Magical is something else—neither magic nor miracle. Who does not love and appreciate magical moments, events, and people? The irony of the Magical is that it is not dependent on magic. Despite it being a result of human action, that which is Magical is not intentional. It cannot be created.

The Magical is an unexpected byproduct of people acting in positive and deliberative manners. Among the essential ingredients for it are kindness, empathy, compassion, generosity, openness, invitation, and inclusiveness.

I see irony and the Magical in similar veins, though irony can result in what is good and not-so-good. But that which is Magical is always good, gently surprising, and uplifting. It is inexplicable and unpredictable. It is a bouquet appearing out of the blue.

When thinking of magical stories and fables, the biblical tale of the Sermon on the Mount resonates most vividly. A few accounts told of Jesus, such as the Nativity, are heartwarming. Most, though, such as calming the waves in the Sea of Galilee, changing water into wine, raising Lazarus from the dead, and the cleansing of the temple are either heavy or solicit eye-rolling.

The Sermon on the Mount stands out. It is a story that transcends religion. Whether it happened or not is beside the point. One does not need to be Christian to imagine, believe, or want it to be true. It is the Magical that happens by Jesus overcoming the meanness and cruelty in the hearts of people instead of by overruling the laws of physics.

Picture the scene. An everyday, unpretentious preacher or spiritual guru stands atop a grass-covered knoll on a pleasant day. People from multiple walks of life slowly and spontaneously gather. He is speaking, not lecturing, without a microphone. There is no surround-sound with pulsating, ear-splitting, heart-thumping music. There are no ushers guiding people to assigned seats or vendors hustling over-priced bottles of water, snacks, tee shirts, and souvenirs.

There is only serenity. People sit on the ground, on Mother Earth’s lap. They are hushed. No catcalling or hallelujahs. No interruptive applause. He is not introduced. He just speaks. “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .” And the people share their bread and fish.

The universe presents and offers Magical moments nonstop. But we must stop to see, hear, smell, or touch them and absorb the wondrous energy teeming around us.

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