Obadiah stood in the vestry, adjusting his pallium, the last of his clerical adornments. He had felt an almost anxious, unsettled feeling all morning. It mildly disturbed him, as he could notbring to mind a reason for his unease.
He had been installed at St. Paul's Cathedral, in Hammersmith, for the better part of a month. He seemed to be liked well enough. The parishioners were rather pleasant, and generous with their praises. He was becoming comfortable in his new surroundings, and could notfathom why he would feel
anxious, anticipatory even, as if something monumental were about to occur.
He was startled from his musings as the church bells rang out across the town, calling everyone together. He gave the pallium another tug, scowled at his reflection, and shook his head. As the last strike of the bells echoed and died, he stepped from the room, his notes on the day's sermon firmly in hand.
Obadiah settled into the ornately carved bench that was situated behind the pulpit, looking over his notes as the opening hymns were sung. He took to his feet and approached the pulpit as the last notes of the organ faded away.
He looked out over his congregation and greeted, "Good morning." He smiled as many voices rang out in reply. He glanced down at the page before him to find his place, and when he looked up to begin, his eyes came to rest on her face. Suddenly, his anxiety faded, and clarity came to mind as surely as the sun breaking through the clouds. Angelique was seated three rows back, and to his right. She was smiling up at him. He could tell she was pleased to see him, and his heart began to thump rampantly in his chest. He folded the pages of his prepared sermon and tucked them into the back of his bible. He drew a deep breath, and as he regarded his flock once more, he began to speak.
"I had a sermon prepared for today, but find I am inspired to move in a different direction." He rested his intense gaze on Angelique, and proceded, "I would like, instead, to talk of God's Miracles." He shifted his stance, and rested his elbows on the dais, taking a relaxed, companionable pose, knowing that it would capture their attention. He was satisfied to see more than a few of them sit up and take notice.
"Each of us, here, has heard tell of the great Miracles He performs; Heaven, Earth, light, dark, all Creation…God's Miracle." He held out his hands expansively and leaned toward them, to emphasize his words. He had to hide a smirk as several of the children down in front leaned away in reaction. He regarded them solemnly, satisfied that he held their attention. "We all know how he parted the waters, how he turned it into wine. We've heard how he healed the sick, brought sight to the blind, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. We learned of these Miracles as mere children, seated at our mothers' feet!" His voice rang out in the vast room, accompanied by shifting feet, the fussing of startled infants, and an occasional cough or throat clearing.
"But what of the Miracles God provides for us every day? Do we see them? Do we make conscious note of them, recognize them for what they are, and thank Him for them?" He looked out over them with challenge in his stance, and in his tone of voice, pausing for dramatic effect before his next delivery.
"We do, if we simply PAY ATTENTION!" He slammed his palm flat upon the pulpit, leaning forward, adding impressive power to his words. The sound his hand made thundered through the vast cathedral, echoing off the walls and ceiling. The children before him, jumped in their seats, mouths hanging open in awe of the intimidating force of this young preacher. "Pay attention to what he tells us, and what he shows us. every day!"
"Have you ever noticed the Miracle of God's bees, appreciated the gifts they bring us?" He leaned back, and with a touch that was like a caress, he slid his hands along the edge of the podium, and continued in a gentler tone. "Have you taken the time to smell the beautiful flowers that color our world, or tasted the golden honey that sweetens our tables, and recognized them as the miracle that they are?"
"Consider the joyful laughter of a child." He smiled briefly at the little ones before him. "Do we stop to realize the Miracle of birth? The Miracle of Life? The Miracle of Death."
He paused again as a thrill raced through him. He knew, in that moment, that he was experiencing God's Miracle for himself. He praised Him, and thanked Him for his Miracle, never happier to know that he had learned to pay attention. He took a moment to collect his thoughts, once more gazing out over the assembled group. He struck another conversational pose, and went on. "God's
every day Miracles are often overlooked. We are simply so caught up in the notion that a Miracle has to be a spectacular event," He paused and slid his gaze to Angelique. Her eyes were riveted on his face, and his breath caught in his chest when the intense fire in their depths registered in his conscience. He forced himself to keep his mind on what he had to say to these people, and carried on. "that we do not see the truly miraculous things He gives us in these simple, everyday, occurrences. He gifts us with these small signs of His awesome power, to guide us, as if taking us by the hand, and leading us down the path we need to follow."
He went on to explain his point. "Certain events happen in our lives, and at the time we are going through them, we may not understand what God is trying to tell us. We come to find that it all works out for our better good, when we reach the other side, and look back upon the Miracle that has changed our lives. These miracles are not monumental or spectacular, but, they are profound in their simplicity."
"Expect a Miracle…every day. Look for it, in the sudden breeze that cools you in the heat of the day, in the quiet chirping of a cricket at night, when you find you are having trouble sleeping. Pay Attention! Look for them, learn what God's Miracle is teaching you today, and remember that God will provide all we need to realize the Miracle He has chosen for us. We simply must be aware enough to notice them for what they are." His voice rang out over the congregation, reaching every ear, but his eyes were for Angelique alone…his miracle.
The character of Obadiah Slope was taken from Barchester Towers, written by Anthony Trollope in 1857