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There’s Something Miraculous Inside You

January 3rd, 2019 by dk

December is our month for contemplating miracles. A small amount of oil lasted an impossibly long time. God became a person, born on to a virgin mother. Kwanzaa’s focus falls between the Christianity’s cosmic claim and Judaism’s tactile tradition. Kwanzaa celebrates the first fruits of the annual harvest.

Some miracles hide in plain sight. Because they occur all the time, we see them as normal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t miraculous. The growing season’s reliability is the miracle. Every marriage that succeeds is a testament to the improbable. Every snowflake — solid and soft at the same time — should provoke wonder. Emerson once remarked that if the stars appeared only once each year, no one would sleep that night.

Let me describe an everyday miracle you may not have seen. As I set the stage to describe it, I ask only that you trust your gut.

Our Milky Way galaxy has at least 100 billion stars. The Hubble space telescope has detected no fewer than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. There are approximately a trillion trillion stars and planets — and that’s a low estimate.

There are approximately 130 billion mammals walking the earth right now. You and I are among them. Inside each animal is another galaxy. Inside every human gut, there are approximately 300 billion bacteria. They are the worker bees our digestive system work. We cannot digest food, expel waste, and replenish our cells without their assistance.

Every human life relies on a nearly infinite number of tasks performed by micro-organisms. We’ve outsourced all the basic processes the keep us alive. The work they do collectively results in what we call “life.” Just as the sun supports life on earth, you support these bacteria. You are the star of their show. From each bacterium’s point of view, “you” are Gaia. You are the end which justifies all their means.

The more we learn about the human microbiome, the more we marvel at its complexity. Studies have shown that animals with less diverse microbiomes are more likely to become obese. Scientists speculate that a diverse microbiome allows each of its “inhabitants” to specialize, making the system more efficient. It takes a village to digest a cookie.

There’s no reason to doubt that inside every cell in every bacterium, we’ll someday see another galaxy of activity, and then inside every atom another. It’s worth contemplating this every time we see another person or look in the mirror and see our “self.”

You and I represent midpoints between infinite complexities. The worlds beyond us number beyond 100 billion, and the worlds beyond those do too. But the world within us is also on that scale — for you and me and 100 billion others.

Whatever force created self-awareness in humans, that force — whether by chance or intent — put us in a spot somewhere near the middle of unending layers of complexity. The universe doesn’t revolve around us, but we certainly have the best seat in town.

Simply stated, mathematically, you’re awesome. Before you’ve done anything at all, the fact that you’re alive is nothing less than a miracle.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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