The Pot Roast Miracle
The year was 1987, and Jordan was four years old. He looked angelic with his blue eyes and silky yellow hair. He could be typically hyperactive for a kid his age, racing around the house making siren noises—other times he might become fascinated with a water strider in a puddle, for example, apparently walking on water, and he could hunker down to watch it and remain still for half an hour with intense, rapt focus, untroubled by scientific laws regarding surface tension. The bug walked on water. That was the object of his fascination.
I am his Grammy, and when he was four his faith in my omniscience and omnipotence was complete. If I said it, it was true. If I couldn’t do it, no one could. I had to be careful to tell him only the truth, because he believed everything I told him. I kept Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy fantasies to myself.
Michael and Tami and the kids, Jordan and Riley, were at the farm for a late summer weekend, the blueberries in thick clusters on the bushes in the yard, the garden just at its peak, evenings cool enough now to sit by the creek wearing sweaters.
Jordan and I had picked peas for dinner, then wandered through the blueberry patch, leisurely filling a pail of blueberries for cobbler. While I got dinner ready he sat on the kitchen floor picking the stems and leaves out of the blueberry pail, his attention focused on getting every stem and every leaf, and placing each one on a paper towel next to him.
I used heavy mitts to pull the cast iron Dutch oven from the stove and took off the lid to check on the pot roast, sizzling hot with rich brown juice and bubbling golden beef fat. Too much fat. Finally I had a chance to use the new fat separator I had ordered from a kitchen catalog: a clear plastic pitcher with the pouring spout set into its base, like a watering can.
I set the pitcher on the butcher block and poured in the liquid boiling up from the Dutch oven. At first the yellow fat from the top of the pan bubbled up and filled the spout as I poured, then in the main container the liquid quickly separated into a clear golden layer of fat on top, a layer of brown meat juice at the bottom. After it had cooled a bit, I would first pour off the fat that had filled the spout, then pour off the good brown juice from the bottom of the pitcher for gravy, stopping just before the layer of fat floating on the surface reached the opening for the spout. I was fascinated with the device, a fantastic tool to put a scientific principle to use.
When I turned to put the lid back on the Dutch oven, Jordan climbed onto a stool at the butcher block island. He saw the pitcher and—he told me years later—thought it was orange juice. Before I realized what was happening, he had made his mouth into an O, put it around the spout of the pitcher, and sucked the burning liquid into his mouth and down his throat, his mouth sucking hard before his brain registered HOT.
Time stopped. Jordan’s mouth was open, his face shock white, stunned, the scorched tissue of his lips and mouth turning white as I stared, frozen in place. My mind fibrillated frantically, uselessly twitching, unable to process what I was seeing.
His mother was asleep on the other side of the great room, napping on the couch. The nearest hospital was forty miles away, thirty if you took the logging roads and knew which way to turn at each crossroad.
It was just Jordan and me. He had not moved, had not made a sound.
My mind switched into Inner Voice mode and became suddenly calm.
Get the magazine, I heard in my mind. Use it. Tell him. I had come to recognize the familiar Inner Voice as my guidance.
A Time magazine was lying on the counter, open to an article I was reading about the immune system. There was a full-page photograph of a macrophage, a large white blob of a cell against a red background, magnified trillions of times. Listening within, I knew what to do, and how to do it. Inner Voice mode had become another way of knowing besides the logical and scientific way.
I laid the magazine in front of Jordan and said quietly, “See this picture? It’s a magnified picture of a white soldier, and you have millions of them in your body.”
Jordan stared at the picture, then at me, white lips starting to blister.
“You are the commanding general,” I told him, “the boss of these soldiers. Their job is to fix anything that hurts. They know how to make the burns all well.”
Jordan opened his mouth and pointed down his throat, no sound. White blisters covered the roof of his mouth and the back of his throat. I opened the freezer and took out the ice cube container, handed him an ice cube. “Suck on this,” I told him. He put the ice cube in his mouth. I handed him another ice cube. “Rub this on your lips.”
“You have to tell them, inside your head, to take away the burn and make it all well.”
Jordan stared down at the picture of the macrophage.
“Tell them,” I said, “you’re in charge.”
Jordan looked up with intensely focused blue eyes, but I could tell he was looking inside rather than at me. He sucked on the ice cube. I waited.
My logical mind raced ahead. My Inner Voice kept up.
“What should I do?” I asked myself.
“You need do nothing,” my Inner Voice responded.
“Should I wake his mother?”
“No, that would distract him.”
“Then what should I do first? I could call the fire department.”
We had called the fire chief when my niece pulled a glass to the floor and it broke, then fell on it, and blood poured from a gash in her face. We told the chief a baby had been hurt, and within minutes the ambulance and four pickups were in our driveway, seven paramedics gathered around the screaming child. She was astonished into silence at the gravity and tenderness of these strangers. That time we had taken her to the hospital for stitches.
“It won’t be necessary.”
“It only took forty minutes on the logging roads.”
“But what can I do?”
“You’re doing it, now. If there’s a need to do more, I’ll let you know.”
I decided to wait, and keep asking for guidance.
Jordan spit out the ice cube and I handed him another. He rubbed it over his mouth, still pale, eyes dreaming.
I waited. There was no sound, no movement, just waiting. I could hear the antique clock ticking quietly in the living room.
Riley, pink and warm from a nap, toddled into the kitchen with her blankie and headed for Jordan. “Come play outside with me, Jo-bee.” She tugged at his foot. He kicked her away, impatient. “Leave me alone, Riley, I’m busy.” I was amazed he could talk.
I picked up the baby and carried her to the rocking chair, sang her a song about a mockingbird, watched Jordan sitting silently at the kitchen island, his back to us.
The Inner Voice reminded me of an idea from A Course in Miracles: “Anyone can work a miracle. You can work a miracle. If you work a miracle, time and space will be arranged to accommodate it.”
My training was in the sciences. I trusted scientific laws. I trusted time and space. But not now. A different logic applied here.
Time passed. How much time I didn’t know, because I wasn’t sure which direction it was going.
Jordan jumped down from the stool and skipped over to the rocking chair, eyes bright and happy. His lips were red, flawless.
“Come on, Riley, let’s go outside and play!” he said.
I grabbed at him, held him still long enough to look in his eyes. He was his normal exuberant self.
“Open your mouth, Jordan,” I said, “Let me see your throat.”
Jordan was impatient, but briefly opened his mouth wide, pointing in with his index finger.
“Aw well,” he gurgled.
Pink, normal tissue. No blisters. No burns. He jerked loose from my hands and burst through the screen door, letting it slam behind him, hollering for his sister.
Jordan’s mother sat up on the couch, stretched, and wandered into the kitchen, blonde hair rumpled, yawning. “What’s up?” she asked.
I leaned back in the rocking chair, letting Riley slip from my lap to follow her brother out the door.
My Inner Voice left my mind, telling me on the way out, “Time and matter were rearranged to accommodate a miracle. Healing is but a return to a previous state.”
My grandson had reversed the laws of time and physical matter. He had returned to a flawless state.
“Not much,” I told Tami. What could I tell her that she’d believe?
“Just another miracle,” I muttered.
“What?” Tami said.
“Nothing. Just talking to myself.”