“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein
Years ago I studied A Course in Miracles. Actually, I just memorized the first three pages, which are the 50 principles of how miracles work. Studying these principles all day, every day for a year created a filter for seeing the world as one continuous miracle. When you are juggling 50 of them in your head, pretty much one will apply all the time. That year I lived a magical, truly miraculous time. Although I stopped studying those principles, the truth of what I learned when I was 24 never really left me. However, I could never really tap the power of that place again until I started re-learning how miracles happen in the space of positive thinking.
It was my positivity quest of vigilantly recognizing the negativity that had come to dominate my thinking and the courage to learn to wonder, be curious and open, that led me to miraculous changes in my own life. My real goal in beginning the Positive Change Club at South Eugene High School was to teach the kids about positivity. At our early meetings I would always start with a quote to get them thinking. Soon, this was replaced by the act of transforming an overgrown unused space into a beautiful positive place to remember one’s own goodness. As I looked out at the vast courtyard, I had no idea how we were going to do it. In fact, it wasn’t even clear that we were going to get permission to do it. The kids were determined. They collected 700 signatures on a petition. We had to come up with a design that the administration would accept.
At each obstacle, another miracle would present itself. Jim Robinson of Daichi Design was kind, generous and not too overwhelmed by the cacophony of voices coming at him about what the kids wanted the space to be. We went back and forth for months trading designs and pictures from magazines. Then Jim gave us the perfect design and price for materials only of the design: $25,000. The kids doubted we could do it. I knew we didn’t need that money to clear the space out, so in March of 2012 we broke ground. Mostly we just kept making it a mess in the name of cleaning it up. Miracles kept happening. Some of the dads that I had known for years sitting next to me on a bleacher became friends, pushing sod cutters and week wackers around. Some big local construction businesses contributed big machinery and engineering wisdom, another miracle.
The church that shares South Eugene brought the miracle of community. They assigned us an amazing miracle worker named Robert who knew how to organize work and people and taught me some unforgettable stories from the Bible about how things get done. We moved earth and placed the frame for the gardens. All the while, we were applying for contests to win money and then I decided we had to take our idea to the web. We began to plan for a kickstarter project in the midst of all the muck and then another miracle happened. I met “C” in an interview. He was inspired by our story and became our videographer, spinning our hours of work and the kids’ inspiration into a beautiful video. Another miracle.
Mostly I don’t know how what I am doing is going to work, but I start anyway because I know that things that are meant to happen will find their way. This is the lesson of miracles. But truly this week has given me reason to start memorizing my old principles again. We were blessed with some television coverage and a front page story in the local paper, which lifted us where we hit a plateau at just under $6000. I was in surrender mode. I had one more PR opportunity planned, where a couple of our group leaders were going to talk about the project on public radio on Tuesday.
Right during their interview I got a call from the mother of one of the four kids who died from the class of 2011. She recounted stories about her son and told me she was going to donate $5000 towards our cause. She had seen the story in the paper and this was exactly the kind of memorial she had hoped for. She shared a quote that helped her through her painful loss, which I hope will be at the center of our courtyard on our fountain: “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” ― Charles Bukowski. Another miracle.
Her donation started a flurry of giving. As we got closer and closer to our goal, the gifts were pouring in, in memory of love, of people lost that were connected to South over the years. One story in particular in the late afternoon light came from a call I got from Martha who was the reunion chair from the class of 1960. She told me that her classmates had gotten together and they wanted to donate $500 in memory of two students who died from her class. She remembered the exact dates and shared the story of how one boy was hanging lights in the auditorium when the ceiling gave out. He died in front of a classroom of friends. Some 50 years later he will always be remembered in the Positive Change memorial courtyard.
Maybe this is the most beautiful miracle of all, that we will soon have a space that holds the goodness, love and spirit of all the students, parents, siblings and friends that we have loved and lost at the heart of the South campus. I hope my name will live on for my great grandchildren to find in there someday. I hope it says- she always said – remember you are what you think. Think positive.
I am so deeply grateful to be at the heart of this flurry of miracles. A daily blessing.