The pamphleteers outside of the Science Center are getting aggressive. They shove a colorful flyer in my face, promoting a talk being given by professors on the intersectionality of science and spirituality. “Do you believe in miracles?”
I falter. Yes? Maybe? Memories blur behind my eyes like a black and white movie reel, spinning spinning spinning. It lands on my acceptance letter. Knee-jerk reactions land in the throat and the wound begins to hemorrhage, a lump develops. Swallowing assuages this fear, caresses the thing that refuses to be anything more than dark and hard and lumpy and invulnerable into confession.
I was shocked at my instinctual response. On a different day, I might have given a different answer. Yet, despite the fact that the words had already trickled down from my mouth, I felt their impression soft, cold on my lips. Miracles to me come in the form of watching the sun set over the Science Center Plaza while I sit on my heater, leaning against the window, thinking of all the lives I could have had where this view wasn’t in the stars. Miracles are the fire that breathes life into the impossible, that nurture the idea that a kid who couldn’t fathom adding the word “Harvard” to her daily diction now has the opportunity to watch the sun dip its toes into the horizon every twilight at that very institution. To deny myself this existence seems counterintuitive; it is an attempt to take the light away from the seam between the sky and the ground—and this feels just plain wrong.
How is it that that feeling of overwhelming joy, accomplishment, fulfillment that one finds when they open their acceptance letter can be anything other than miraculous, otherworldly? Who here would have the audacity to say they belonged here before they knew what belonging meant?
This weekend, hundreds of prefrosh flowed through the veins of campus, red lanyards, name cards, and timidity in tow. They gravitated towards one another, conglomerated around their shared awe and exhaustion and confusion. If you looked closely, past the doe-eyed and bushy-tailed glint in their smize, you can see the fear, the qualms in their step. They know how hard they’ve worked to get here—some of them might even tell you, if given the opportunity to humble brag in a non-humble way. SAT, ACT, IB, AP, NHS, CEO, IVY—give them the alphabet and they’ll give you an accomplishment, a story, a parable strung together in three letters that you’ll take home with you and hold up to the light, wondering which pattern of letters rest heavier on your own shoulders. Ask them if they think this place is still a miracle to them.
Bet the answer is still a resolute, resounding “yes.”
Focusing on the gall of my absolutist answer, however, is a bit ad hominem, missing the intent entirely. Focusing on the question of miracles itself might be a bit myopic as well. While it is completely valid to have arguments for both sides of the query without either opinion being privy to the truth, standing on either side of the line removes the possibility for one to see from the perspective of being in the middle.
If we begin to place our actions in the hands of miracles, we fail to see the light within ourselves, the desires and dedication that propel us to grind ourselves against the whetstone of the world, honing ourselves to something that, mixed with a dash of luck, places us in the paths of achieving our dreams. And in the accomplishment of such feats, in reaching out to the thing that has held our minds captive for days and weeks and years and having the ability to call it our own—this feels like a miracle. Who’s to tell you it isn’t one, you might think. But then again, you might not.
The talk given by the professors proffering the solution to this question was relatively inconclusive. Both professors said they’ve seen miracles. These are men of science that study the way in which nitrogenous base pairs come together like bodies in embrace, origami themselves in such a way that the individuality of humanity can be surmised by the expansion and contraction of said embrace. Men of science who know that a reading of these bases like a finger tracing the steps down one’s spine coupled with neuronal fireworks tremoring in roots of one’s brain gives way to the justification of every single action that has ever occurred in the history of man. These professors know this, and they still believe in miracles.
Does this answer your question?
Jessenia Class ’20, is a Crimson editorial editor living in Canaday Hall. Her column appears on alternate Tuesdays.
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