Gratitude for Miracles

There is always God’s Light for our inspirations to dispel the darkness of despair. The famous English novelist and social critic, Charles Dickens, eloquently expressed this for me in his novel, The Tale of Two Cities, with the literary quote, “It was the best of times and the worst of times. …” Healthy hope is the faith to pray and work so that Miracles do happen in life even when it is fraught with financial instability and hardship.

I’m happy with my son by encouraging him to play baseball games at the Miracle League.® The people who organize these teams are challengers and protectors. In my area, Sean Casey, a former major league baseball star with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a celebrity that fundraises for it. He attracts volunteers who help children and young men and women with mental and/or physical challenges to play baseball and believe they are part of a valuable team. At our baseball field, these volunteers wear yellow shirts with the word ‘buddy’ on it. The baseball fields have a rubberized turf to prevent injuries, wheelchair- accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate barriers to those using wheelchairs and visually adaptive devices. The Miracle League® gives more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia the opportunity to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

My wife is a challenger and protector who volunteers at the equine therapeutic riding center, Horses with Hope. It is a charity supported through the hard work of grass roots volunteers at fundraising events held throughout the year at a local horse racetrack and a golf club. During the spring and summer, the center works at a beautiful farm and picnic area whose use is donated by a historic trust. In July, I’ll be inviting members of my church to come and see. Church members will be invited to relax and groom the horses. One is named Miracles and another is named Rocky. My wife will give a walking tour about how the center uses the farm’s facilities for its therapeutic riding, unmounted programs for at-risk youth, team building, and programs for veterans and their families. While leading special needs children through the sensory garden she has witnessed them open up, take a deep breath, and smile. It makes their parents who are present feel happy.

Our church, like so many other faith communities around the country, is trying to maintain an older worship building in need of repairs. At my church, where I am planted and seek to grow with God, I’ve been invited as an authentic witness of hardships to direct how God invites us through our woundedness to persevere by growing compassion for ourselves, others, and in that process our entire faith community. I’m happy in my mission partnering with clergy challengers that are teaching me how a gathered flock is fed by encouraging giving and receiving with gratitude.

Yes, I do believe Miracles still happen because with faith, we can become challengers to rise to meet the hardship of life’s challenges. We pray to God to ask for the Holy Spirit for vision to give us our daily bread. Through our hard work and faith efforts we own and become grateful for what we have. We offer what we have to sustain our hope to flourish in faith community with each other, our children and their children’s children in our celebrations with God.

Jerry Rutledge, JD

Associate Spiritual Director Intern


Jerry is an Associate Spiritual Director Intern at the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality and has received training in the WVIS Spiritual Direction training Program on Formative and Ignatian Spirituality.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and a Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University Law School. He is married and lives with his wife and family in Pittsburgh.  He offers spiritual growth activities at his church. Jerry offers individual and group spiritual direction and group-directed 19th Annotation Ignatian retreats in daily life (in person and via Zoom).