John Pawlak: It does make you think

-A A +A
By John Pawlak

I’ve always liked miracles. They come in so many different sizes and flavors, you get to take your choice of favorites from a virtual warehouse ranging from the surprising to the truly ridiculous.  
And of course, knowing me, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not particularly interested in writing about the surprising. And so let’s get ridiculous!
First of all, we should wash away any criticism of miracles and admit that we all like them. Miracles are a staple of life. There’s Miracle Whip (it’s a miracle if you can figure out what this stuff is.)
Plant lovers swear to Miracle Gro (and swear when it doesn’t work.) There’s the Miracle Pro-Juice extractor, the Miracle brand LCD monitor, Miracle Dry Foam cleaner, Miracle Wipes and an entire line of Dr. Miracle’s hair products.
It’s a miracle that anyone even gives the word miracle any weight these days. But putting aside Madison Avenue’s abuse, there are in fact undeniable miracles that defy our senses and challenge our skepticism.
Take for example the Pachuca family of Bryan, Texas. Last year, the Virgin Mary appeared on the side view mirror of Salvador Pachuca’s truck. When the family saw this miracle, they took pictures, invited friends and neighbors, and before you know it a steady river of worshipers came to see it for themselves. Yes, it was the spitting image of the Virgin Mary.
Well, not spitting actually. More like splattered. The image on his rear view mirror was formed by a bird dropping.  But the Pachuca’s and hundreds of worshipers took this in stride. The lord works in mysterious (and sometimes avian) ways.  (Salvador has since removed the mirror from his truck and proudly displays the soiled item on a shelf in his house.)
This isn’t the first time that holy relics have chosen unusual settings for discovery. A grilled cheese sandwich with the likeness of the Virgin Mary (it kind of looked more like my Aunt Rose, but I’ve never been much of an art critic) sold on eBay for more than $20,000.  
A corn puff shaped like Jesus likewise was purchased for its obvious sacred qualities (it was reverently called a Cheesus.)  
The face of Jesus was seen in a mildewed shower curtain and purchased for $2,000. A Houston school cafeteria made the news when the Virgin Mary appeared as a grease mark on a cookie sheet. And in a forkful of spaghetti (on a Pizza Hut billboard), true believers saw the face of Jesus.
There have been many such miracles and throngs of people rush in to soak up the holy spirit. Perhaps the most famous is the Shrine of the Miracle Tortilla of Lake Arthur, N.M.  
After seeing the image in a burn-spot on a tortilla, Maria Rubio quit her job and set up a shrine for others to bask in the light of this holy relic.
Don’t laugh. Within five years, more than 40,000 people came to visit the shrine. Unfortunately, as the years passed and the tortilla dried up, the image faded. Even worse, Maria’s granddaughter brought the tortilla to show-and-tell at school and dropped it. It shattered into small pieces and the shrine was closed for business.
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m a cynic.  Well, maybe I am, but I don’t want you to think that. These miracles keep occurring and over time, everyone is getting their fair share of air time.
Mother Theresa was predominately displayed in a cinnamon bun dubbed the nunbun. Allah’s name, spelled out in Urdu script, has been seen in eggplants, watermelons and a gutted fish. And even Satan is on the bandwagon. A turtle that survived a pet store fire has the image of Beelzebub himself burned into his shell. Bad turtle! Bad bad turtle!
And for an instant, I thought I struck it rich! After blowing my nose, I saw the image of — oh wait — no, that’s not him. That’s my Uncle Bob. Trust me, no one wants to see his image.
John Pawlak
Los Alamos columnist