I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea about Walt Whitman’s faith, whether he was a Christian or not. For all I know he may have been a pantheist, a Universalist, a Buddhist. He died 120 years ago, so it would be pretty hard to have a conversation with him about it now.
I do hope I meet him in Heaven someday so I can talk to him about his poetry and his process. I would enjoy gaining some insight into what it’s like to see through his eyes and hear how he crafted his thoughts into such classics.
That said, when I read his poem “Miracles” through my faith grid and spiritual experience, it’s hard for me not to believe that he had some sort of relationship with the Divine. I read his lovely words about the miracles found in the common and the extraordinary, about the beauty to be found in the streets as well as the fields, and I am inspired to worship.
Somehow, I think that’s what Walt was doing.
Here is his poem, see what you think:
By Walt Whitman
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
If you’re living a “workaround” life like I am (and who among us isn’t, on some level?), recognizing the everyday miracles may often be just what you need to get you through. For me, they include a sweet friend writing me an email at just the right time to tell me what she appreciates about me; the return of green to the grass after a brutal summer drought; the giant chocolate Lab catching my eye from across the room and thumping his tail in greeting; the discovery of shared faith in the unlikeliest of places.
Will you share one or more of your everyday miracles in the comments below?