“Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.” Richard Wilkins
The Bible mentions countless examples of miracles. There are hundreds of them, for example: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Jesus turns water into wine, Jesus walks on water, Jesus cures a blind man, etc. So if these miracles were possible then and if there truly is a God or a higher power, why wouldn’t miracles and divine interventions be possible today?
Miracles are typically supernatural, statistically impossible events that nonetheless occur. But what one may consider a miracle may not be so incredible to someone else. This week I had the opportunity to see Tony Melendez perform a concert for the parishioners of my church. His music filled the church as he beautifully strummed his guitar. Song after song, I found myself mesmerized by him lost in his words.
Tony was born with no arms after his mother was prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness while pregnant. His confidence in his music made me forget about his disability yet his inspiring faith in God and humanity often filled my eyes with grateful tears. What a gift it was to be able to witness his presence and feel his faith.
He told the parishioners that he felt normal growing up. Yes, he had no arms. But it wasn’t like he lost them and now misses them. He never had them.
Fitted with prosthetics at the age of 6, Tony soon realized that he could do just as much without them. He learned how to live his life to the fullest with what he did have. “Please don’t tell me that you can’t,” he said. “Because you can.”
In 1987, his life changed forever after he performed “Never Be the Same” for Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles. The Pope told him to keep playing and bringing hope to others. Tony became an overnight sensation and has since never stopped playing.
There was one thing that he said, however, that really struck a chord in me. Tony mentioned how people sometimes ask him, “Where are the miracles?” In answer to that seemingly difficult question, Tony effortlessly responds that he sees miracles in the very fact that people have arms. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought about his profound words.
We take so many things for granted in life. To a man like Tony just having arms is a miracle. Think about that for a moment. We don’t realize how blessed we truly are until something is taken away from us.
I, too, was born with a disability. Luckily, my cerebral palsy is mild but I still have my challenges. My muscles are numb and weak in some areas of my leg, and I suffer from bilateral hearing loss. I understand wholeheartedly what Tony means when he says he sees miracles in arms.
Growing up, I saw the kids playing and running in the street. Today, as an adult, I see people talking or listening to music. I have never heard an entire song. There are always words that escape my ears. So, to me, the very act of listening to music is miraculous. To me, each day that I can stand up and put one foot in front of the other is miraculous.
I was once told that I had no idea what I was missing because there are so many sounds I cannot hear. I remember standing in front of the audiologist somewhat stunned and confused. How could I even begin to comprehend what she was talking about if I’ve never had the opportunity to hear those sounds? Like Tony, this is my normal.
As the saying goes, it’s all relative. Most people don’t even give the fact that they have arms a second thought. Neither do people who are not hard of hearing. So, likewise, what you may perceive to be a miracle is dependent upon your view of certain things and situations. Everything is measured by individual perception.
Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I don’t want to speak for Tony but, like me, I’d be willing to bet he’d say the latter.
Tony continues to travel around the world inspiring others through his gift of music. For more information, visit his website at www.tonymelendez.com.
My youngest daughter Lia was there with me as we all watched Tony. Seeing him left quite an impression on her and she wrote the following poem.
LOOK AT YOUR HANDS
Do you really believe that you’ve never seen a miracle?
Look at your hands
A maze of crevices creating a path to your fingers
Opposable and capable
With these you can do anything
Your mind thinks but these hands can execute
They write stories, hold hands, catch Frisbees
Look at your hands
Do you really think that you’ve never seen a miracle?
Look at your hands