If you grow up with a certain religious belief, you might be taught that miracles were amazing acts of God that happened only in another time long ago. Some believe, for example, that there were times when water could be turned instantly into wine, or men — certain men anyway — could live three days in the belly of a whale, survive a fiery furnace or walk on water. Those things, some people will tell you, don’t happen anymore today, for whatever reason.

Others still believe that miracles do still happen today, but you sometimes have to wonder whether these are miracles that matter. Maybe God really does feel the need to remind us of his existence by putting the image of his face in a slice of bread or on a rusty metal chimney, but that seems like a pretty silly use of effort for an omnipotent, omniscient being. Other miracles might simply be things we haven’t discovered the scientific explanations for yet, like the incredible, sudden and full recoveries experienced by a rare few people who thought they had just days to live based on our understanding of conventional medicine. Maybe they are miracles. Maybe they’re just tomorrow’s unforeseen medical breakthrough.

But then there are other miracles. Miracles that all around us in the natural world. It is, indeed, a miracle that we live in a time when we can watch a full eclipse of the moon without fear, knowing that the gradual darkening of our planet’s satellite is caused not by some evil super-being but  by the Earth casting its shadow in the path of sunlight. Or that we live in a time where we can understand that it’s not angry demons, but sudden shifts of tectonic plates, that causes the ground in some places to shake violently and with sometimes deadly consequences.

Everywhere you look, there are real miracles to be seen.

Consider the ant, for example, There’s no such thing as an “ordinary” ant we should squash just because we can. What is “ordinary” about a creature that has been around for more than 100 million years — far longer than we humans — and, despite its tiny size, accounts for about 20 percent of the total animal biomass in any region? Every ant you see is likely part of a much larger society whose inhabitants can communicate with chemicals, might cultivate crops or livestock (fungus or aphids, for example) for food, and might have helped to spread the seeds of, in total, nearly 10 percent of the world’s plants. The more you learn about them, the more you realize how miraculous a creature ants are.

But it’s not just ants. Wherever you live, whatever you look at, you’re likely witnessing a miracle of some kind. A handful of dirt? An ounce or two will hold fragments of rock millions of years old, as well as a vast community of microscopic life forms. There is no “average” color, composition or consistency for soil on Earth. Dirt gives life by letting plants grow … and could even save life by providing a way to keep climate-changing carbon dioxide safely out of the atmosphere. Dirt filters water, absorbs the Sun’s heat, can give up secrets about long-gone cultures, and can provide shelter for everything from microbes to humans. Plain ol’ dirt? No such thing.

And that’s the miracle of life today: that we know and understand that nothing is as simple or “ordinary” as what meets the eye. The deeper we look, the more questions we ask, the further we investigate, the more miracles — not the fewer — we discover. Remembering that, we can live each day with a continual sense of wonder and appreciation … and that’s something none of us should ever surrender.