Do you believe in miracles? What exactly is a miracle? According to the website, it is "a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency."

We have all heard stories of miracles. Someone wakes up from a coma into which they had fallen 10 years prior; a cancer patient given no hope is suddenly in remission; rescue workers in disastrous situations days later find someone alive in the rubble; Biblical stories of impossible healings and people being brought back to life; the list goes on

No matter what your beliefs, you have to admit that the concept of miracles is a wonderful one. "A surprising and welcome event" … who wouldn't want that in their life? What is interesting to me is the fact that the context of a desired miracle differs so vastly from person to person. One person might long to win a lottery. Another may ask for healing for a sick family member or friend. Someone else may hope for a better job with a higher salary. These are all valid hopes, and a positive outcome in any of the above could be considered a miracle, based on the definition.

But think about this - for some people, a hot meal would be a miracle. For some, a warm coat in the wintertime or a roof over the heads of their family would be a miracle. Things we consider basics are only wishes and hopes for others. So why do I bring this up?

I am asking that you be the miracle in someone's life. Someone random, a perfect stranger. It doesn't have to require much. It can be anonymous. Donations to a local food bank - Manna on Main Street or Pennridge FISH or any other - can make a huge difference in the lives of many. Volunteer one day to work in the food bank - it is an eye opener. Right in your neighborhood, there are many in need.

Years ago there was a movie called "Pay It Forward" in which one boy's quest to make generosity contagious ended up having consequences farther-reaching than even he could dream. Help one person. And hopefully thus begin a chain reaction of good-will. Man helping his fellow man. Do whatever is in your power to be the miracle. There is something to be said for the old adage, "It is better to give than to receive." Volunteering is a powerful and amazing thing. It can actually improve the quality of your life while helping others by lightening their burdens.

But how can it improve your quality of life, you may ask? Studies have shown that altruism, or selfless concern for the well-being of others, can markedly enhance your peace of mind. Feelings of improved self-esteem, confidence and happiness can all result from a simple act of kindness.

Volunteering also has a way of helping you keep things in perspective. If you volunteer at a hospital, for instance, and see sick people fighting for their lives, you realize just how blessed you really are. Sure, we all have our share of worries and everyday stresses; however, we are not struggling for every breath. Or, perhaps you think your home is rather dull and shabby in comparison to a photo in a design magazine. However, it would seem like a palace to someone living in poverty. Perspective.

One of my favorite quotes is this gem from Gandhi: "You must be the change you want to see in the world." Be the change. Be the example. Be the miracle.

Terry Alburger is the fitness instructor at Brittany Pointe Estates, an ACTS Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale. Send thoughts to