While meeting for coffee, three women—Joan Luise Hill, Katie Mahon ’78, and Mary Beth (Meb) Phillips ’76, M.A. ’78—realize that they had each experienced what could be called a “miracle.” They knew that Phillips’ daughter had recovered from brain-damaging abuse in infancy, and Hill’s 14-year-old son had just survived life-threatening open-heart surgery. Then Mahon shared her story: As a Santa Clara undergraduate, she was rescued from serial killer Ted Bundy by a helpful stranger who then mysteriously disappeared.
So these friends decide to collaborate on The Miracle Chase: Three Women, Three Miracles, and a Ten-Year Journey of Discovery and Friendship (Sterling Ethos, 2010). Three women, three miracles, three lives combine in this 10-year journey of faith and friendship, filled with surprises, synchronicities, and personal awakenings. “What is a miracle?” the three women ask, searching for answers in lively discussions at Hill’s house; through insights from Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, Locke, and Einstein; and through a series of adventures, personal challenges, and discoveries.
“Chasing miracles became a way to connect as friends,” says Hill, “to heal past hurts, to resolve—and maybe even dissolve—issues with the Catholic Church, and to find meaning again in our relationship with the Divine.” Phillips tells of how in the darkness of an intensive care unit she had held her baby, Elizabeth, and prayed the Memorare: “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.” Her daughter made a remarkable recovery from traumatic brain injury and Phillips became a child advocate, reforming our nation’s child-care laws. “If trauma can ripple through the life of an individual, a family, or a community, even through time,” she writes, “then so, too, can the effects of the miraculous.”
Miracles, these women found, are moments of grace, “gifts freely bestowed and altogether unmerited.” They learned that miracles often come through the people around us—miracles of faith, love, and friendship. Engaging, inspiring, and filled with personal warmth, the book invites the reader to join their circle of friendship and evolving dialogue of discovery.
In book signings and blog posts, the journey continues, as readers share their reactions to the book and their own “miracle” stories. A timely book for challenging times, The Miracle Chase strikes a common chord, for as we face an uncertain economy and disheartening world events, people are searching for rays of hope. One reason miracles are so rare is that our culture accepts inexplicable negative events as normal. Wars, murders, and disasters are reported dispassionately on the daily news while inexplicable goodness too often falls beneath the radar, unseen and unacknowledged. Yet, as research in positive psychology reveals, the power of love, compassion, and hope can open our hearts, heal our lives, and transform the world with a power many would call miraculous.
“Miracles happen,” the authors write. “We may not always notice them, but they exist, and the choice to recognize a miracle is up to each of us.”
Royalties from this book support the Miracle Works Foundation, devoted to the health, education, and empowerment of abused and disadvantaged women and children. Diane Dreher
Ruth Chojnacki M.Div. ’92 contributes a comprehensive and insightfully interpreted work with Indigenous Apostles: Maya Catholic Catechists Working the Word in Highland Chiapas (Rodopi, 2010), her doctoral project at the University of Chicago. Her ethnographic study takes place in Santa Maria Magdalenas, a Tzotzil-speaking village in Mexico’s Maya highland, Chiapas. She explores relationships with the saints and reinterpretations of local Tzotzil traditions—and, with efforts toward fostering communal well-being, there are the economic and political consequences. Jean Molesky-Poz
Beyond the Box $core: An Insider’s Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports (Morgan James, 2010) by Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek ’86 touches on the industry side of Super Bowl revenues, team owners, fantasy leagues, sports gambling, sports video games, player agents, player unions, and stadium construction. Nike, one learns, has a $1.6 billion budget for athlete endorsements—and when Manny Ramirez was signed to a two-year, $18 million deal with the Dodgers, that was equivalent to the “annual salaries of 100 L.A. policemen, 100 firefighters, and 250 teachers.” Jeff Zorn