A while back, we posted “Let’s Save Charlie’s Life”, about our friend Charlie Allenson who needed a kidney transplant to save his life. Since the usual wait on the transplant list can take years, we joined with Charlie in sending the word out through the internet and social media to find someone who might be able to donate.

Last week, Charlie got his transplant through an anonymous donor. Somewhere that person saw Charlie’s plea, sent out through the many personal networks of his friends, of the anti-gun-violence community he has worked on behalf of, through ads on Facebook. He or she stepped up for a stranger.

The night of Charlie’s surgery, when we’d gotten the word that he was safe and sound, the world seemed a very different place. The threat that had been looming for years was gone, and our friend had been given a second chance through the generosity of a stranger.

It got us thinking about miracles. Charlie finding a kidney seemed like such a long shot — on any given day over 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney for transplant — and we will never know the route that all the messages sent out on his behalf took, or who the person is that said “I’m going to help” or what their path was. ‘Object of wonder’, ‘to wonder’, ‘wonderful’ are from the early Latin roots of miracle; all are fitting.


Charlie now wakes up to days full of miracles, tiny pleasures that most of us don’t think much about. His descriptions call to mind Walt Whitman:

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
        ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Charlie Allenson with his wife Harriet Bell

Lately, we’ve been seeing the good things around us through Charlie’s (and Walt’s) eyes, a mighty antidote to the dark news that permeates the atmosphere. We hold in mind the words of Mary Oliver…

Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

…and of a street person named Cosmos we once met

Expect miracles every day.

Sally Schneider

Heartfelt thanks to all the people who sent out emails, Facebook posts, and messages on Charlie’s behalf.

The need for kidney donations remains as grave as ever. If you would like to explore what it entails, you’ll find essential info in our original post about Charlie.

Starling murmuration video filmed by wild life cameraman and travel journalist Dylan Winter.

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One thought on “Thoughts on Miracles (Charlie Allenson, Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver, Cosmos)

  1. Hello to all from Charlie Allenson and my new kidney. It’s difficult to find the right words of gratitude for all of you who’ve shared my story and given me tons of love and support. The doctors are happy with my progress so I’m happy.

    So to all, a huge thank you and eternal gratitude for bringing this miracle to me.


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