When I listen to my friends speak about miracles what I strikes me most is that it is a hermeneutical activity, an interpretive activity, a way of making meaning of life.
More specifically, speaking of miracles is to be engaged in a hermeneutics of enchantment, hallowing and relationship. Things happens in life. For one person an event means nothing, signifies nothing. Life, to borrow from Mark Twain's definition of history, is just one damn thing after another. A day is just a string of meaningless occurrences.
But when you speak of miracles, when you read your day with a hermeneutics of enchantment and hallowing, life isn't like that. Instead of one damn thing after another your day is filled with sacred moments, boredom is filled with adventure, and small, even trivial, events become experiences of grace.
All this to say, one of the theological triggers behind my hesitancy with miracles has been that I've tended to think about miracles metaphysically rather than hermeneutically. That is to say, I've focused more on mechanism than meaning-making. And since I've struggled with the mechanisms I've tended to be dismissive of miracle talk, especially when the events are trivial, like finding lost car keys.
But recently I've begun to think that miracles are a hermeneutical activity that gives life sacred weight, texture and meaning. Miracles are less about supernatural mechanisms--Did God, in fact, supernaturally intervene to help you find your lost keys?--than about experiencing life in a more interactive, relational and enchanted manner.
So what does this hermeneutics consist of? What experience does it seek to create?
In the next three posts I'll describe three features of the hermeneutics of miracles.