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What is the miraculous? Our first thought may be that it concerns a supernatural and sensational event. And yet this Summer 2018 issue of Parabola reveals that the most ordinary action—digging a garden or cooking a meal or making art—becomes sensational when it is performed with mindful awareness of what we are doing. Any action may be automatic or creative, repetitious or truly alive, participating in the life that is happening in the instant: “The situation is completely different when my action is not a repetition but something new, an action that can only take place in the present moment to respond to a need that I recognize right now,” writes Jeanne de Salzmann in this issue.

What is miraculous is our ability to move from one state of being to another, from sleep to awakening, from numbly repeating what we think we know to seeing something new and marvelous that has been hiding in plain sight. A strong example is offered in these pages by Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, who writes of the “miracle” of the “black, curious eyes of a child.” Or there is the remembrance here by NPR correspondent Judith Valente of her time with the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, learning how seemingly mundane acts like planting a garden are imbued in the Benedictine tradition with deeper meaning. Valente affirms Wendell Berry’s view that there are “no unsacred places, only sacred and desecrated places.” The first head cook at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a vet who communes psychically with animals, a seeker who visits Ramana Maharshi, a mathematician, a physician, and others contribute other striking insights in this issue.

“In its essence the heroic act is bravery, in small moments as well as great ones,” writes Parabola story editor Betsy Cornwell in these pages. “It is heroically brave to divest oneself of attachment to the past, to the future, to the story we believe we are telling.”

As a young girl growing up in traditional Korea, Tae Yun Kim was caught in a story woven by others. In her contribution here, Kim, now a martial arts great grandmaster, confirms here it is only by letting-go of easy certainty and approval that we can find what we truly seek. It is by leaving the known, the well-traveled road, the deep grooves of habit, that we find our true path. And on that path, we may glimpse and sense that our true life does indeed share in the miraculous.

—Tracy Cochran

Cover Description: Photograph by Matthew Fournier.

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VOL. 43:2 The Miraculous
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