The Miracle That Is T-H-E

I’ve been thinking about miracles this week.  Yeah, hospital stays, even really short, uneventful ones, will do that to me.  

They’re special miracles I’ve been thinking about.  The little ones, the ones we step over in our eagerness to get to the big ones that usually don’t actually happen.   Miracles like love and connection and the ability to communicate with others through sound and the written word.

Why don’t we give more credit to these miracles?  Why don’t we give ourselves any credit at all for taking part in them?  It’s a question I return to again and again.

It reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years back on another blog.  Some of you who have been with me awhile will remember it.  I hope you don’t mind repeating….

I learned to read when I was five.  The book was Fun Parade, a collection of nursery rhymes and stories which various members of my family took turns reading to me.

I actually remember when the magic happened.  I pointed to a word and asked my sister, “What does that spell?”

And Chris said, “The.”

I saw it again, further down the page.  “The?” I hazarded.


And that’s when it all fell into place for me. T-H-E spelled “the” no matter where it fell on the page.  Even on another page, on every single page, T-H-E spelled “the“.  What kind of miraculous system was that?!!!?!?!?

There was no stopping me after that and by the end of the day, I was reading entire sentences.  My parents had to practically rip the book out of my hands to get me to go to bed that night.

The next day was a Sunday.  And in our house there was a strict protocol for Sunday mornings.  We were Catholics.  We went to Mass.  And we had to fast for an hour beforehand.  You’d think that rolling out of bed and heading to church would work, but if we didn’t eat something, there’d be fainting and tears.

So Mum would wake us up really early, with cups of tea and a cookie.  Then we’d get through the bathroom, get dressed and assemble downstairs before walking as a group to church.

There was no variation.

Except that morning, I had to find out if it still worked, if “T-H-E” still spelled “the“.  So very carefully, I tiptoed downstairs, picked up my book, and, almost sick with the fear that the  magic had disappeared, I opened it.

There it was! T-H-E was still “the“, C-A-T was still “cat”.  The magic still held!

And, do you know, to this day, I can still get thoroughly distracted by the wonder of it all.  Even now, forty-four years later, that T-H-E spells “the” can still leave me almost giddy with delight.

How ‘bout you?  What everyday miracles will you be celebrating this weekend?  I’d love to know!

This entry was posted in Memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Miracle That Is T-H-E

  1. Douglass says:

    So, to borrow something from Audre Lorde, the giddy delight of the THE “forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.” Worlds begin with words. They make us human. Thanks Barb…..

  2. Barb McMahon says:

    Thank you Douglass!

  3. Steve H says:

    I like how you took the three letter form “the,” and then reproduced it in different varieties. Perhaps miracles too share the same structure, but they manifest themselves in different ways.

  4. Macy says:

    Sorry I missed your blog about your surgery! Glad I can get back and congratulate you on being BETTER!
    Let’s celebrate the miracle of anaesthetic! Well… it’s sort of USED everyday…

  5. Barb McMahon says:

    But thankfully on different people…
    Thanks Macy, being better is definitely worth celebrating!

  6. heidi says:

    I love your story of little Barb! So delightful! I think that seeing with wonder and delight like when we were little, helps us notice miracles.

  7. nick says:

    I think taste is quite a miracle. We don’t just stuff food into ourselves to survive, we can appreciate thousands of different flavours (and smells) that make the experience not just functional but often quite ecstatic.

  8. Barb McMahon says:

    Now you’re making me hungry!

    Taste is one of my favourite miracles and another one that’s easy to overlook. Thanks for the reminder, Nick!

  9. Pingback: Words Connection Magic |

  10. Pingback: The Books That Ruined My Life |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *