“No, that’s not the way it works.” The old man looked pointedly over his spectacles at Jill.
“But why not?! I mean, if magic really exists, why doesn’t everyone know about it? How come it’s so ‘Hush hush!’?”
Father Hildebrandt took off his spectacles and polished the lenses for a few moments. “I can offer you many reasons, but they would only be speculations.”
“Speculations? Aren’t they the same thing as guesses?”
Father Hildebrandt smiled broadly. “Yes, my dear, that’s exactly what speculations are. And that’s because, in this life, and about such matters, none of us can ever be certain. But, since you’ve asked, here is what I think….”
Jill sat forward in her chair to listen.
“What I think,” said Father Hildebrandt, “is that God made the world a very strange and immensely wondrous place. We don’t pay much attention, because we tend to fixate on our own little concerns; but, there are cracks in reality, and that’s where the magic fits in. It’s also how miracles happen. And, when push comes to shove, it can be very difficult for us mere mortals to easily distinguish the one from the other.”
“But isn’t magic always bad, whereas miracles are always good?”
“You might think so, but those are labels we tend to add after the fact.
“What if I were to tell you….” Father Hildebrandt reached across his desk and touched the heart-shaped pendant around Jill’s neck. “What if I were to tell you that this very pendant that you are wearing is enchanted, and that whoever owns it will be instantly healed of all disease and despair….”
“That would sound like magic to me….”
“Yes, but what if you, knowing this, were to take that necklace and freely give it to a destitute old man in an alley downtown; someone who is forgotten and alone, and who is suffering from addiction and mental illness. Suppose you did that…and that he was cured?”
“Wouldn’t that still be magic?”
“No, it wouldn’t. It would be a miracle.”
“For this reason. That, knowing what the necklace was capable of, you still freely gave it away…in the hopes that it might help another.”
“Then that’s the difference between magic and miracles?”
“That, my dear, is the very heart and soul of the difference.”
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