Archive | March, 2023

Blog—Miracles on 56th Stteet

28 Mar

I am not one who talks glibly about miracles. In the April 30, 2000 issue of Newsweek magazine, I published an article entitled, “Why I don’t believe in miracles.” I don’t believe God zaps into our world to intervene and redirect the processes of nature. I do believe in blessings.  Generally, however, you’ll hear a lot of miracle-talk today.

Of course, medical science and engineering are dedicated to intervening in natural processes and redirecting them—but that’s another matter.

The day of Neva’s funeral, Saturday, March 25th, brought anxieties. First, the weather—a rain/snow forecast. I wondered whether my power chair could make it, and scattering of her ashes in the church garden would be difficult. By mid-morning, it seemed that we had dodged the weather bullet. That was the first “miracle” on 56th street, the address of Montgomery Place, my residence.

Transportation, however, was another matter. Since Montgomery Place’s weekend transportation vendor does not have buses that accommodate wheelchairs, one must request their wheelchair van a few days ahead. That was my mistake—I waited until Saturday morning to put in the order.

I was told the van was on its way. Forty-five minutes later, there was no van. I called my pastor to say I would be late to the funeral—perhaps even an hour late. In desperation, I called Curb Cab, a Chicago wheelchair taxi company, that usually takes up to an hour. There are only 300 wheelchair taxis in the city, so at any given moment, it may take a while to get one.

After making arrangements, I no sooner ended the call, and I received a text: “ETA 4 minutes.” I didn’t believe it, but, astonishingly, the cab pulled up by the time I made it to the front door. I made it to the service well before the scheduled time. The second “miracle” on 56th street.

So, what about miracles? I really cannot believe in miracles in any conventional sense, but miracle-talk serves me well when I talk about that Saturday in March.

God certainly could have rearranged traffic patterns that day, cleared the cab company’s schedule, and reconfigured a cab driver’s brain  processes—but that is not credible to me. I preferred to take a deep breath, and say, not only a blessing, “It’s  a miracle.”

(c)Phil Hefner

Eucharist: a poem

28 Mar

The story

that is my story

my restoring

the acting out

that is my enactment 

Yielding of bread 

that is soft tissue 

of a body 


bitter wine 


of blood spilt

the enacting

that establishes the world

my world

In eating

there is dying

In dying  there is living

The story 

that re-stores


in night


in day 

(c) Phil Hefner 3/22/2023

The Mosaic of our lives

2 Mar

 Blog – -The mosaic of our lives 

How do we reflect on our lives? Where do we begin? I focus here on four ideas that work together to launch us into reflecting on ourselves. Call them ideas for spiritually.

Just who are you? Who is living your life? This is the question of identity. Age, health, ethnicity and gender, occupation, social class placement—these all play into our identity. A checklist of these items is helpful. I’ll bet  there are some features of identity we would like to skip over. “Who am I?” can a challenging question.

What’s the  meaning of my life? This requires looking at a bigger picture than our identity, even the whole picture. This is really asking what your personal metaphysics is. Each of the religions tells us about the meaning of our lives. Secular scientific humanism has its own answer to the question. Of course, some views say that life has no meaning, and if that is what a person. belief, that is important, too.

As a Christian, I believe that my life takes place within the hand of God, and that my life is part of God‘s providence.

 Purpose. With my given identity, Within the framework of meaning that I hold to, what is the specific purpose of my life. As  a Christian, I believe that the purpose of my life is to contribute to God’s work of bringing the creation to fulfillment, while living a life of love – – loving others, and the world, as Jesus loved us. This is a very general statement of purpose, but it does help me to eliminate some possibilities, and embrace others. Amassing, wealth and becoming famous may be ruled out, for example.

Direction is the only one of these four that we have some control over. Meaning is given to us, or not. The same is true of our identity and our purpose, as well —it may be synonymous with our calling or vocation. These may be in place—or absent—while we are headed in the wrong direction. Direction, like identity is bound tightly to our situation in life. Those  of us who are past fourscore and ten years, for example, know our direction is conditioned by mortality. Nevertheless, we can map it out within the parameters of age.

Identity, meaning, purpose, and direction – – these are pieces in the mosaic  mosaic that is our life. It is the task for us, of personal reflection and even spirituality. These ideas only get us started, but at least it’s a start

(c) Phil Hefner, 3/1/2023