Sometime around Thanksgiving, I woke up with this thought: “2020 shall be a year of miracles which will usher in a decade of miracles the likes of which you have never seen before.”

God usually grabs my attention in the hours before dawn — in the quiet — before life starts to bustle and information starts flying at me with wireless speed. I don’t think we were created to handle the amount of information we receive in a day or even in an hour. And for someone like me who is easily distracted- it can be especially hard to keep my interior peace.

That’s why I give God the first word and most days, the last word too- though that time is a little harder as I’m usually crawling into bed exhausted from the day. But raising a young adult with disabilities helps me to keep routines. Routines are essential for learning and organizing our lives — especially when you are caring for people with brain injury.

When I start and end my day focusing on God, it’s easier to see the miracles. Some days they are simple little things that happen which remind me that the Lord cares for the details of life. For example, a few days before Christmas, we took a family trip into NYC. We spend a fair amount of time in the city, but we hardly ever get to have fun. 

Visiting New York City three days before Christmas isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But for us, it was a special time spent with our eldest son and daughter and Johanna. We decided to walk through one of the Christmas markets near Central Park (mostly for the mulled wine and hot chocolate) and grab lunch while we were there.

In the first few minutes of our walk, I started singing Christmas carols. My son looked over at my eldest daughter, rolling his eyes as she chuckled. I searched their faces to be included in the joke — only to find out I was the joke. He had won the bet that it would take me under 10 minutes to start singing. I responded with one of my favorite lines from the movie “Elf,” “The best way to spread Christmas cheer….” and finished with “Silver bells…it’s Christmas time in the city…soon it will be Christmas Day.”

As we decided on food, my son suggested we just find an open place to stand and eat because it was crowded and Johanna had a seat in her stroller. I smiled and assured him as I hummed that we would find a table where we could all sit together. With that, I rounded a corner and found a table tucked away from the crowds with a lovely view of Central Park. A young couple was just finishing their lunch. My son shook his head as I smiled and said something about how the Lord always provides.

After lunch, we took a leisurely walk through Central Park, making our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, admiring the horse-drawn carriages and the bustle of people who were also taking in the holiday cheer. 

The Met is always a beautiful destination, but especially at Christmas time. We also remembered days past when the kids were little and we went to the Met for a reprieve from doctors’ appointments.

Soon after we arrived at the Met, an occupational therapist and her husband approached us to ask about Johanna and her service dog. The woman shared with us how much she appreciated these dogs and the service they provide for people with disabilities. By the end of our conversation, the couples’ eyes filled with tears as they described their personal experience with a family member recovering from a stroke. We ended our conversation wishing each other blessings for Christmas and the New Year.

The Christmas tree at the Metropolitan is enveloped with angels and people moving about their daily life — even as they surround the nativity of Jesus Christ. As I took in the scene, I was struck by how regular life continued in the midst of this miraculous birth. Here, heaven was touching earth. The exhibit captured the bustle of everyday life — men and women at work and children at play — seemingly unaware that the King of Kings was born in a neighboring stable.

Three kings seem to notice and indeed were led by a star to witness this humble birth. The shepherds were also heralded by angelic missives from a heavenly chorus in the sky. Jesus’ mother Mary was attentive to their visits and the gifts and messages they shared with her little family. 

Luke’s gospel tells us: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Mary knew she was witnessing a miracle and she was savoring the moments to help her understand.

Some would say my life is far from miraculous — perhaps even cursed — if it’s measured by calculations of trials and losses. I reject that notion as well as the thoughts of well-meaning people who tell me- “The Lord never gives you more than you can handle.” I’ve been beyond my strength many times before. 

But still, the miracles abound — even in the face of human suffering. Sometimes the miracles are big and life-changing like the one I wrote about here.

Most times I see miracles — manifestations of God’s work in our lives —in the little things like finding an empty table where our family can sit and enjoy some Christmas cheer or in intimate conversations in the Metropolitan Museum of Art which lead us to share blessings with strangers.

Are there human reasons for the miracles I see? For sure— but who is to say these moments were not inspired by God?

This weekend at our house, we will celebrate our final days of Christmas and recall the three kings’ journey which led them to adore the King of Kings in a tiny stable in Bethlehem.  The kings witnessed a sign from heaven in the sky — where others only saw a star.

The pre-dawn message I received about 2020 being a year of miracles to herald a decade of miracles ahead — was it God or wishful thinking? 

I may never know for sure — at least on this side of heaven. As for you- will you see miracles in 2020 or coincidences?

I’m praying for 20/20 vision in this new year so that I can see God clearly at work in my everyday life. You can too — if you choose to see miracles. If there is one thing I know about miracles: they happen every day for those who choose to believe.

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Eileen Benthal
Eileen is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Email Eileen