I'm going to share with you something which happened a few weeks ago. I've been told off by one of our lovely congregants for keep calling it a 'story' when it should be a 'factual account'.
"Because it is," she says.
For twelve years I've not been able to walk properly. I slipped a couple of discs in 2008 and had a couple of operations, but my muscles are wonky so my legs don't work right. Getting up stairs is a bit of a swine. Anytime we go for walks, Mrs. Vicar and Little Miss Vicar are usually several miles ahead.
On Easter Sunday we found an untrodden path (untrodden to us), descending a precarious hill on a headland. I stopped to take photos while they continued, only to see them reappear saying "The path just ends!"
Being a daddy, paths never 'just end'. So, in fine daddy form, I insisted on seeing what everyone else had missed. Only to discover the fence did indeed just end! With the public footpath sign pointing back up the hill! At the path's end there was a spring, though, so Daughter and I discussed what it might be for.
Then, heading back, I stared in horror at the hill we'd come down, knowing it would take me 10 times longer to return. Everyone set off and I steeled myself for a long and painful ascent, having a brief 'please don't let it hurt' conversation with God.
On my second step, however, I felt all my bones and muscles lock into place. Correctly. Fitting where they were supposed to. Taking my third step, I felt strength that I'd never had before. Even as a teenager. Every step just moved perfectly and the momentum carried me past my daughter (who'd stopped, out of breath), and then my wife (who'd stopped, out of breath).
I wasn't even breathing hard. Just steaming up the hill like a Challenger 2 on steroids. Every time I kept thinking it was going to go wrong, all I heard was 'Just stay with it, and enjoy it …'. So I did. Until I reached a Private Property sign and couldn't go any further.
Ten minutes later, the others caught up. All I could do was keep saying 'Did you see what happened …?' to their eventual boredom. For the next few weeks, the event stayed a blissful memory until I bumped into a friend and told them. She then told me where we'd been.
The path that 'just ends' is at Maughold's Well. For centuries the well has been regarded as holding healing properties and providing visitors with legends of things improving after a visit.
When I told my daughter, her eyes widened.
"So was that a miracle?"
"Yes." I replied. And the reason we know it was, is twofold:
Firstly, we had no idea where we'd been, and what happened was something I'd never experienced. An enabling of every fibre in my body to work in a way I've never had, and to feel how it should work. So it wasn't psychosomatic.
Secondly, miracles are not simply about dropping your walking stick and dancing. They're about being shown what's possible. About seeing what God intends for us and to know we are not limited by anything in this world. We may not always get to live that out, but we are to know that one day we will experience it. In this life or the next.
Since that day, my symptoms have improved. Strength has returned in my legs where it's not been for twelve years. I can move better than ever. I can now get up stairs with no pain. Things aren't perfect, but now God has shown me what my body's capable of, it's my responsibility to improve things and keep helping it along.
I haven't been back to the hill yet, but I will. Because miracles happen, and when they do, we need to celebrate them.