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The Idiot's Guide to Miraculous Living
By S. Donovan Mullaney
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.
This is the story of a young man who may or may not be a little down on his luck financially, and who may or may not be a complete and total idiot. One evening, this intrepid young man was traveling home from book club, when he ran out of gas on Storrow Drive. This had happened to him before, so he knew to cruise his car into a decent holding place on the side of Beacon Street.
He had no cash on him, a common occurrence.
He had no gas can, because his had been stolen during one of his many moves. He had no money in his checking account and needed to go to the bank to take money out of savings in order to get gas. He called his roommates, his friends, anyone he thought might be able to help him. No one was home. Knowing he would have to leave his car for the night, he searched for a spot. He saw one across Beacon Street underneath the Arthur Fiedler faootbridge along the on-ramp to Storrow Drive. It had no time constriction and wasn’t even residential parking.
He waited for the green light, then began to push his car across Beacon Street before traffic came. A stranger in an expensive car pulled up.
“Boy, it'd be nice if he got his rich ass out of those leather seats and helped me,” the young man thought sourly to himself as he struggled against the weight of his car and the street's incline.
Without being asked, the other man got behind and helped push the car uphill and into motion, where it cruised silently into the spot.
Principle of Miraculous Living #1: Don’t overlook the willingness of a stranger to help because of his or her appearance.
The young man walked to his Cambridge apt, went to bed, and get an early morning ride into the city the next morning where he went to his bank. He called off work, got his cash, walked from Copley Square to the nearest hardware store in the South End in order to buy a gas can. He then walked to the edge of South Boston to the nearest gas station to fill the tank. He began to walk back to his car.
He happened to be passing Arlington Street Church around 10AM on his way when it occurred to him that he should stop in and prepare the hymns for a sermon he was preaching the following Sunday. Finding the side-door unlocked, he entered the church, put down his filled gas tank in the foyer, and sat down in the sanctuary. He found himself completely alone.
He picked his hymns and walked out humming—without the gas tank. The door lock clicked behind him.
Principle of Miraculous Living #2: If you pay attention, you might not need a miracle or only need one that’s more easily managed.
Shoulders clenched with rage, feeling like an idiot, the young man walked to the UUA, hoping someone there might be able to let him into the Church, but no one had a key. The receptionist called the church offices, but no one answered.
Having barely escaped a Catholic education in tact and priding himself in his healthy skepticism, the young man rarely prayed. He believed that if there were a Higher Power, he/she/it helped those who helped themselves.
However, knowing that he couldn't spend two more hours getting another tank of gas, our wanderer put his hands in the air, looked up to the sky, and said: “You and I both know that I’m an idiot, and that I brought this on myself. But now I’ve done everything I can, and I need a miracle to get out of this one.” Heart hopeful, he began to walk back to the church. Like everyone who only prays in times of utmost need, he was certain that Someone would answer his prayer.
Principle of Miraculous Living #3: Ask for what you need and believe that an answer or solution exists.
When he got to the church, the locked doors hadn't miraculously opened. The Sexton had not magically shown up to save the day. The young man sat on the steps outside the office and waited for his miracle.
Five minutes later, an Asian gentleman walked up the steps, unlocked the door, and went into the church to use the bathroom. He was one of the sidewalk vendors who rented space from the church to sell his brother’s watercolors.
Principle of Miraculous Living #4: There’s nothing supernatural about miracles, so don’t expect a bolt of lightning. If fact, learn not to expect anything.
The story doesn’t end here. Our young man had gotten his miracle, but hadn't addressed his main problem: lack of cashflow.
He ran out of gas again the very next Tuesday on the way to work. This time, his miracle was a best friend willing to help him push his car down the hill and into the gas station, and lend him a little money. (Don't feel bad, I’m thinking it too: Complete. Idiot.)
It gets better. The young man never made time to cash a couple of checks he had on Tuesday, so he ran out of gas again on Wednesday. This time on the on ramp where Interstates 95 and 93 meet.
"OK, this really is too much." He hopped the fence and went to the nearest store, a Pier 1 Imports in Reading. The salesgirl let him use the phone to call AAA. But again, he had no cash to pay the driver bringing him gas. The salesgirl asked him “Did you run out of gas or something?” Embarrassed beyond reason, he lied and said no, he had broken down. He walked back to his car.
When AAA came, he knew he had to face the music. The driver followed him to the store, where he shamefacedly had to tell the salesgirl that he had in fact run out of gas, had lied to her, and now needed to ask her for $3. She gave him $10. He immediately drove to his bank, cashed his checks, and filled his gas tank.
Principle of Miraculous Living #5: Be honest. You can’t expect a miracle if you’re not honest about your need.
Sometimes we’re running on empty. Sometimes it’s our own doing, other times circumstances beyond our control. This young man is very lucky. He has the support of a family, friends, and teachers. He has the privilege of being young, male, Caucasian, and middle class. The probability of him getting a miracle is greater then many others in this world. Perhaps the people who'd so graciously helped him had themselves been in need at one point, without someone to return the favor.
Modern society hasn't afforded us equal privileges, material or life circumstances. What we share are: 1) humanity, 2) a presence in the only moment that really exists—right now, and 3) the choice of how to respond.
In dark times, we can choose to look for light. In interesting times, we can choose to pay attention. In prosperous times, we can choose to give thanks and return the favor. And so, here’s the last of an idiot's advice:
Principle of Miraculous Living #6: Whenever the opportunity presents itself, be someone else’s miracle.
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|Reviewed by Sage Sweetwater
|You hit a homerun here, and I hope everybody doesn't miss it! The Idiot's Guide to Miraculous Living has no fixed price that is negotiable and we aren't waiting in an outer office for insult. You've offered some comforting knowledge here to help an individual function well in society...it's a good way to live. The speed, extent, and intensity of social change in our culture is mind-boggling indeed and uplifting writings like this leaves our attitudes and environments far more durable. Confronted with challenge, we adapt. You leave us with positive energy, Shea...Blessed Be...