The first thing you need to know: A friend of mine lamented over, of all things, a boy today. She complained about how she couldn’t get him out of her head and how every time she thought she was “over him,” she just kept going back for more punishment. More of the same. I listened to her for a little while and then, having just read Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love, I asked her, “Since you can’t get over it yourself, why don’t you just ask for a miracle?” She paused and thought about it.
“I guess I could, couldn’t I? Probably better than what I’m doing now…”
The second thing you need to know: Eleanor Roosevelt said to do something that scares you everyday. Well, I definitely don’t do that everyday. Most days I’m like everyone else, doing the routine that feels comfortable. But today, I forced myself to go try a new workout at a new gym. It’s called FightFit, similar to CrossFit but more about boxing and martial arts. Anyone who recalls my short but upsetting stint with CrossFit knows that listening to people tell me what to do, especially when it hurts, is not really a skill in my wheelhouse. Needless to say trying FightFit was a stretch, but I needed a break from yoga.
I walked in to a big room with smooshy black floors and walls lined with huge, black punching bags. Oh, and I was the ONLY PERSON IN THE CLASS. Worst. Nightmare. The coach, a forty-something woman, was nice but sort of in a hurry or not really all there, I couldn’t tell which. She showed me how to pick boxing gloves and got out a mat for me. I had no idea what any of it was for. Then she told me to put on the gloves and “strike” a punching bag. This made no sense to me, as all I could think about was playing Mortal Kombat and kicking the bag with my toe to make it blow up. She showed me a few times that “strike” really just means “punch a bunch of times,” so I did. I looked like a gangly 13-year-old girl and I had no control over where my strikes hit the bag. “Great!” she said. Further conformation that she wasn’t really there.
Finally, it was time to get down to brass tax. Another gentleman walked in just as we were about to get started and did all the things that indicated to me he knew what he was doing. She told us we would be doing strikes, kettle bell swings (sort of like weighted squats), smash balls (throwing a weighted ball to the floor, squatting to catch it, and then standing back up), push ups, and sit ups all in a round robin-style timed exercise: each one for two minutes, then for 90 seconds, then for 60 seconds, then for 45 seconds. Have you ever done push ups for 2 minutes followed by more push ups for 90 seconds, 60 seconds, and then another 45 seconds? Mean either, but I have laid on a dirty blue mat and cried in the middle of a FightFit class.
When all was said and done, I grabbed my keys and headed for the door when the guy who came in late to class said, “Hey. You did great today.”
“Ha! Thanks,” I said, “but I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
“That’s ok! When I first started, I couldn’t get through three punches without stopping to breathe.”
I looked at him. He didn’t look overweight or even like anyone who had ever been overweight. He looked like an average 30-year-old guy with big blue eyes and a teacher’s smile.
“Were you overweight then?” I asked.
“Well, yeah a little. But I had just survived a brain tumor when I started FightFit.”
I set my keys down on the counter. “Really? Did you have surgery?”
“No,” he said, “I had a miracle.” We both paused because here comes the third thing you need to know: “I had a tumor the size of a golf ball in my brain. I went to 8 different doctors, all over the country, and I couldn’t get a consensus on whether or not I should have brain surgery to remove it. I was having 18 seizures a day, I had a stroke, and I’d lost the feeling in the left side of my body. Finally, the last doctor I saw told me he didn’t feel right cutting out a part of my brain because I was so young. So, I decided if it was my time to die, I was going to go. I surrendered my life and put it all in God’s hands and told him that I accepted whatever he had in store for me, I wasn’t scared. Six months later I went back for another scan and no one could find any trace of the seizures, the stroke, or the tumor. Now, plenty of people try to explain it away with scientific theories that don’t really apply to me, and I listen. But I know what it was. It was a miracle.”
All I could think to say as I smiled through my skin was, “I love miracles.”
And I do. And I think they can happen any day. I don’t think you have to believe in one particular god or follow one kind of faith to experience a miracle. Call it whatever you want: a happy coincidence, a phenomenon, a big surprise…it doesn’t matter. Anything is possible. So I called my friend with the boy problems and told her the story. We both laughed in awe of the man who looked like the worst of his problems was a low tank of gas in his car. Finally, I said, “If a miracle can do that, I’m pretty sure a miracle can solve your boy problem, too.”
“I’ll bet it can. That, and a nice glass of wine.”
I mean, after all…wine is a miracle unto itself.