It happened just before our daughter's wedding last November.
"I don't want to scare you or anything," my husband Tom said with an odd look on his face. "But there's something weird going on with Flash's right front hoof."
I followed him out to the barn, peppering him with questions about it. "What is it? What's wrong? Do you think it's serious? Do we need to call a vet?"
"I don't know," Tom replied. "All I know is that there is a growth, like a ring, around his hoof. It is very hard and it doesn't move when I touch it. It's like it's made out of the bone."
He paused and took a breath. "And it's bright blue."
"Whaaat." I whispered the word in horror. Just then we came around the corner and there was Flash, standing there with his muddy hooves....including one blue one.
I knelt down to take a look. Yep, it was obviously part of his hoof......but how could it have grown overnight? Was it a sign of some disease? A mineral deficiency? A health issue? Flash seemed fine, he was his usual inquisitive self, but this certainly could not be good. Unless....
"Unless...." Tom said thoughtfully. "Unless it's some sort of sign."
I got goosebumps at the thought. He could be right. He gets these hunches sometimes that are uncanny. He has predicted tornadoes and major events in such a way throughout the years, that I usually pay pretty good attention when he thinks something's up. A blue hoof could be a sign of....a sign of.....well, ANYTHING. Maybe God was trying to tell us something.
Meanwhile, I googled "blue hoof," "blue ring on hoof," "hoof disease," and anything I could think of to get some answers, just in case it wasn't a supernatural sign. Surely, someone somewhere has had a donkey with a blue hoof.
I came up with nothing. No wiki-answers. Which left only one thing: it had to be a miracle.
LORD HAVE MERCY, IT'S A SIGN! I dunno what, but it's a sign of SOMETHIN'!
We kept an eye on that blue hoof. It was so bright and so odd, it was hard NOT to. We watched for any other strange symptoms, but saw none. And just before I was about to call a vet to take a look at Flash's miraculous sign, something else extraordinary happened.
The blue growth was gone. Just like that.
Flash kept up his usual antics... breaking into the barn, braying to the wind, fraternizing with the horses next door. Everything went back to normal for about three months, and then out of nowhere, it appeared again.
On the other hoof.
I froze when I saw it. Cold chills went up my spine. What. What could be the meaning of this??
I ran to the house and told Tom, "It's back. The blue ring is back, but this time it's on his other hoof!"
He dropped what he was doing and headed out to see for himself. We scratched our heads in wonder and creeped-out disbelief. "Weirdest thing I've ever seen," he said as he turned to leave. "Face it, your donkey is weird."
Normally I'd be offended by such a statement, but for once I had to agree. This time, the blue hoof miracle only lasted a few days and then it too was inexplicably gone, just as before. We pondered the meaning, looked for clues in in the sky and scripture, and silently asked God if He was trying to say something profound. I imagined crowds of people coming to pay homage to the humble donkey in Texas who was touched by celestial power and granting gifts to all who believed. Maybe Flash would be the answer to world conflict! Maybe he would bring hope to millions! Maybe he would end hunger and homelessness! I always knew he was special, but THIS! This was some kind of miracle.
Then suddenly, the answer came.
Tom came whistling up to the house with funny grin. "I solved the mystery of the Blue Hoof," he said cockily. And with a flourish, produced the ring itself from behind his back:
A roll of blue painter's tape.
A ROLL. OF PAINTER'S TAPE!
Bright blue, caked with mud, just the right size for a donkey hoof to step into and not get out of.
We looked at each other and busted out laughing. Mercy, I had to hold on to a chair to keep from falling over! BLUE TAPE!! OF COURSE! Some random old roll of tape must have rolled onto the ground and he had managed to wedge his hoof - twice - into it!
As the tears rolled down our cheeks, we thanked God Almighty that we hadn't called a vet to come take a look...or a newspaper to cover the story. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been? It seemed so obvious now, but at the time of the two miraculous blue ring appearances, we simply could NOT see what it was. We touched it, felt it and tried to pry it away from the hoof, but it was on so tight that it appeared to be PART of the hoof itself.
Our miracle, turns out, wasn't so much.
But oh, how we've laughed about the Blue Hoof Story. And we've realized once again that everyday miracles are all around us. It's all in how we see things. What a roll of blue painter's tape is to some, to others - is a wonderous miracle.
Today's Small Thing is to celebrate everyday miracles. Rejoice in the ability to walk and move and do things without a thought. To share a simple meal with people whose company you enjoy. Hearing children laugh and play and argue....these are miracles of life that should be appreciated and celebrated. The sun came up, the trees have leaves and there is a God who cares for you.
Today, take a moment to look at the world around you and give thanks for the beauty and wonder it holds. Yes, there are problems and worries - many of them - but none of them make any difference to the fact that you can feel sunshine on your skin or see a flower in bloom or taste cold, clear water on a hot day. The list of ordinary miracles is simply endless. The Bible tells us that God has given us richly all things to enjoy....and that is our Small Thing for the day.
What everyday miracles do you see around you? How will you celebrate them? How can you share them with someone else?
Song of the Day: Ordinary Miracle, Sarah McLachlan