A strange thing happened the other day while I was driving to work.
Approaching an intersection I noticed that the traffic ahead was clogged. Though I did have right of way, I stopped and allowed the vehicle on the intersecting road to pass through.
I almost jumped out of my seat in shock when the driver of the passing vehicle raised his hand in thanks. And, wonder of wonders, followed that up with a wide, cheerful smile!
You’re probably thinking: Big deal! What’s so shocking about that?!
Well, the vehicle was a BEST bus. And though these buses are a vital cog in Mumbai’s efficient public transport system, one would not normally use words like ‘civic-minded’, or ‘courteous’ or even ‘ remotely friendly’ to describe their drivers!
To those like me, who negotiate Mumbai’s treacherous traffic regularly, the incident was, at the very least, a pleasant surprise. Some may even go as far as describing it as miraculous!
A search for the word ‘MIRACLE’ in the Oxford American Dictionary threw up several definitions.
“A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”
This is the definition that most of us instinctively associate with the word miracle. Deeds performed by religious leaders and saints, like moving mountains or raising from the dead; deeds that serve as a constant reminder of the existence of a divine presence.
A more casual, but certainly acceptable, definition of the word miracle is “a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.”
So what about the bus driver’s gesture? Can it be construed as a miracle?
It was, after all, ‘inexplicable’, ‘improbable’ and ‘surprising’ and it certainly brought about ‘welcome consequences’ as it did go a long way in making my day!
Was it a miracle? Does the word ‘dramatic’ need to be included in the mix to make it eligible to be one? I personally don’t think so.
I do believe that there are miracles taking place all around us.
A few are spectacular and obvious; like the birth of a child, for instance, or the survival from a terminal illness or the unscathed emergence from an accident or natural disaster.
But there are many, many others that are small and inconspicuous. So much so they struggle for recognition against more ominous events that hog our attention. Events like corruption, war, terrorism, rape, to name but a few.
2012 has just kicked in. It’s that time of the year for making resolutions and wishing for better things.
Well… from me… here are a couple of fervent wishes for the new year.
Firstly, for a year that is filled with ‘inexplicable’, ‘improbable’, ‘extraordinary’ events that bring about ‘welcome consequences’ in our lives and in the lives of those around us!
And, equally importantly, a wish for the ability to recognize these occurrences no matter how small and insignificant and to savor them for what they are truly worth!