Current Issue

Parabola Volume 43, No. 2, Summer 2018: The Miraculous

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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Table of Contents


Genesis 1:1-3, 9-10 KJV, In the Beginning: The first miracle

Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, “I Will Teach You”: To meet her destiny, she needed a miracle

Jeanne de Salzmann, The Miraculous in Action: A new way to live

Judith Valente, Signs of Grace: The joy of blessings

Edward Espe Brown, Gifts from Beyond: Kneading bread, baking a soul

Christopher Fremantle, What is Prayer?: In communion with the Higher

Lillian Firestone, A Miracle in the Pueblo: What happened at the Hopi Corn Dance

Mary Ellen Korman, Be the Water and Not the Froth: A visit with Ramana Maharshi

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Real Miracle: The black, curious eyes of a child

Kozo Hattori and Pavithra Mehta, Awakening Comes in Every Form: A conversation with Hawaiian healer Manulani Aluli Meyers

Robert Roehl, Seeing: Falling into the future

Christian Wertenbaker, The Miracle of Consciousness: The science and spirit of awareness

Betsy Cornwell, To Begin Again: Beginning at the ending

David Appelbaum, Why Are Miracles Miraculous?: Meditations

Karlene Stange, DVM, When We Open Our Hearts: The marvel of psychic animal communication

Sarah Voss, The Miraculous in Number(s): Finding meaning through Euler’s equation

C.S. Lewis, Nature is Ready: In defense of the miraculous

Katherine Ketcham, The Circle: From chaos to order on a beach at twilight

Kaufmann Kohler, An Act of a Higher Power: Classic Jewish teachings on the miraculous

L. Frank Baum, Exactly What They Thought They Wanted: Just deserts for the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion

Mahavira, The Abode of the Soul: Perfect attainment, in the Jain tradition


Three poems by Jane Yolen:

Land of Miracles
That Glimpse
What the Stories Tell us

Charles Baudelaire, Élévation: A translation from the French by Eliot Fintushel


Dale Fuller, The Emergent Universe: A report from the Science and Nonduality Conference


The Bhagavad Gita: A Guide to Navigating the Battles of Life
Ravi Ravindra / reviewed by Vinita Kaushik Kapur

Symbol of Divine Light: The Lamp in Islamic Culture and Other Traditions
Nicholas Stone / reviewed by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos

The Eternal Law: Ancient Greek Philosophy, Modern Physics, and Ultimate Reality
John Spencer / reviewed by Ocean Malandra