The little boy walks into the room and plomps down on to the beanbag next to his dad, who’s working on his laptop. He beats the beanbag and huffs a couple of times, and when that doesn’t work, he sprawls open like a sea star, and stares at his dad, willing him to give him a glance.
It seems to work. Dad, with a sigh, snaps his laptop lid shut and looks at the boy. “Yes?” Just a hint of resignation, and a hint of forbearance. The boy ignores all that though. It’s his prerogative to command the full attention of a parent after all.
“I’m BORED! I’m TIRED of doing nothing!”
“Don’t you have school? Have you finished all your homework?”
“YES! But I also don’t see why I have to do all that boring stuff!”
“What’s not boring to you?”
“Uhm… Interesting stuff!”
Dad ponders for a while. “You don’t have school tomorrow right? Let’s use tomorrow to explore a few miracles!”
The boy is excited of course. Mee-ree-culls! No one’s father ever promises them a miracle, save the father in the high above that no one sees. He goes to bed nice and early, even if he thinks he can’t sleep, because dad says he must wake up early if he wants to see a miracle. At 4 in the morning, his door opens, and dad ends up carrying a half asleep lump and depositing it in the car, buckled in and snoozing while wrapped up warmly in a sweater and long pants.
When he finally awakens, they are next to a dark lake, while daddy has set up a couple of camping stools next to a small lantern and is preparing a fishing rod. Daddy, seeing that he is awake and stretching, tells him to get off the car, and sit on the stool next to him. Every now and then, daddy flicks the pole in the direction of the dark waters of the lake, and the boy yawns, sipping some hot cocoa from a flask that mummy has prepared for them both. What’s so wonderful about this, thinks the boy.
And then the sky lightens, and quietly dad reaches over to twist the knob of the lantern, plunging them into almost darkness. Folding up his rod, and folding his arms, Dad leans back into the back of the camp stool, and waits. The boy sits up. The miracle must be happening soon.
Birds start to twitter as they awaken for breakfast. The once quiet and gloomy lake slowly starts to rouse from its slumber, and in the dim light of the sky, the boy sees birds start to dart around, seeking their early breakfasts. The low thrumming sounds of the bullfrogs cease, and the sound of crickets which he had not noticed before drops a little. Everything seems to pause for a second.
And the sun peeks over the horizon.
Golden rays slowly make their way across the surface of the lake first, chasing the ripples, spreading like warm butter or the oozing yolk of an egg, across the surface of the water. Clouds, once just dimly white, and a sky that was gray, start to blush with the shyness of a debutante making her appearance at the top of the stairway before she descends into the ballroom. And that shyness gives way to the excitement of the moment as colours once dead and dim take on the vibrancy of life.
Everything explodes now into movement and life. Birds start to flit from tree to tree, swarms of them squeaking and making their presence known even as they feed from the bounty that the lake offers. A squirrel bounces nearby and chatters angrily at the invaders of his space, before pouncing on another tree and darting like an arrow into the canopy above. Monotonous night sounds are replaced by the sounds of a waking forest, as dad leans back, hands behind his head, legs out, relaxed and smiling.
The sun continues to rise, powerful rays blazing out across the lake, changing it from a gentle yellow to the molten colours of gold, painful even to look at. The cold of the night is displaced by the warmth of the sun touching the boy’s cheeks, and he quickly takes off his sweater and stays in his tshirt, before he starts to sweat too much. Life starts to become normal again, the lake becoming that same familiar place where he’s been before. The clouds turn white, and the sky is a rich blue, while the birds return to their normal twittering, resting from their exertions to get their breakfasts.
The boy rubs his eyes, stretches and yawns. Then he looks at his dad expectantly. He’s still waiting to see the miracle being performed.
To see dad packing up his rod and his camp chair.
“Daddy, where’s the miracle?”
“You’ve seen it.”
“But you didn’t do anything!”
“I didn’t say I’d do anything. I said I’d show you a miracle.”
“But that’s just the sun rising!!”
The dad puts the camp chair back into the car, and turns around to look at the boy musingly for a bit. Then he squats down and asks the boy quietly.
“Can you make the sun rise?”
The boy is taken aback. Of course not, he wants to answer. But something stops him as his dad looks into his eyes, and he pauses.
“The sun rises every day. Do you wonder why? The birds live, and no one feeds them. The sky turns blue and black and purple as the weather changes – do you know why or how?” Daddy holds out his hand. “Do you know how this hand was formed? Do you know why? Or how?”
“Some miracles happen every day and we don’t think why, son.” Dad stands up and pats the car affectionately. “This car moves, but do you know how its engine works? Do you think of why we need engines, or oil, or anything like that?”
“You go to school now, to learn about going to school. One day, you will learn about things you choose to learn about. How a car engine works. How electricity works. Or maybe how to write a story that captivates the heart of those who read it. Or to draw a picture that makes everyone stop to look in wonder. But to do all that, you first need to learn to express yourself, and how to understand the work of others. You need to learn humility, and the ability to learn. You need to see the value of hard work, even as you don’t give up on the ideas that you form. For some things, like an engine, you’ll need mathematics. Science. Little things that add together into a whole that make something small into a miracle that no one else can understand.”
“And every day, my boy, I hope you remember the miracle of the sunrise. And as long as you can’t explain that, I hope that you will never lose the wonder of living, so that you will always have in you, a heart to learn, a heart to love, and a heart to grow.”
Dad picks up the bewildered and bedazzled boy and hugs him close, carrying him back to the car. “And then there’s the miracle of love, my son, the love that I have for you, and the love you have for me. Perhaps one day you can explain that to me, for even as old as I am, my boy, I cannot explain it, or even begin to understand it.”
“Now let’s go find our next miracle – the miracle of eggs, ham, and maybe a hashbrown or two. And we’ll talk about how amazing taste is, and how wonderful our tastebuds are. Maybe you can talk to Aunt Tate behind the counter if she’s free, to learn how amazing heat and fire is, and how amazing it is to get food out here from the farms where they’re grown.”
The boy starts to regret complaining about being bored.
But he looks forward to learning more, and knowing more.