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Miracle Courage

By Mary Beth Phillips

Eleanor Roosevelt said that women are like tea bags; you don’t know how strong you are until you get into hot water. I have jumped feet first into cold water, lived among neighbors in tepid water, and found myself in hot water more times than I would like to admit.  I don’t get too excited about reinvention, mostly because I never had time to really settle into an “invention” of myself long enough for me to need to reinvent. But I do know a thing or two about living life fully while living through change and making a difference while doing so.

“I learned that if I could just take one step and then another, trusting that I was the instrument of a change that needed to happen, I could achieve what some thought impossible.” (The Miracle Chase, Sterling, 2010)

Real change requires the courage to take the first step toward a goal or dream and then each incremental step thereafter. In my experience, this is true for people, for organizations, and for politics.  When you are blind, as my daughter is, in the best sense, every step is an adventure. I have learned much watching her dive into life and into the unknown, trusting herself, believing that each next step is a solid one.  To truly live our life takes the courage of walking blind—placing your best foot forward, one step ahead of the last step, trusting in your heart and the weight of your body, balancing all the disparate parts of yourself as you move forward. You must move this way, even if you are not certain that what you think is out there to hold your weight is really and truly there, trusting, emphatically, that it is so, while not thinking about it, because if you did, you might stop moving, or worse, keel over. Gasp. We humans are amazing in our ability to move forward.  The act of moving is, in itself, such a miracle.

Moving forward takes courage—the kind of courage my daughter lives every day.  Miracle Courage.  And this courage takes practice. It can be learned, just like any other real skill in life. It expands when fear chokes our breathing and we breathe through, open up, allowing our courage to expand even further, beyond even the barrier of our breathing. I believe in miracles and even wrote a book about them with my two dear friends.  Miracles, as we talk about in our book, The Miracle Chase, are the Divine’s invention to provide signs along the way. While I wonder with reverence at how miracles can open us up and change us forever, the absolute best invention is the miracle of the human spirit—the force within that calls us to celebrate ourselves,  that takes us forward into the unknown.  Step by step.

2011 Pennsylvania Conference for Women speaker Mary Beth Phillips started to believe in miracles when her baby daughter, shaken and blinded by a neighbor’s nanny survived, then thrived, against unbeatable odds. The tragedy propelled Phillips into a 20-year career as a child and family advocate, and she has been honored for her work at The White House and has appeared on Oprah. Phillips is co-author of “The Miracle Chase: Three Women, Three Miracles and a Ten-Year Journey of Discovery and Friendship.”