WHAT TO MAKE OF AN ODD OVERLAPPING of circumstance? When these things happen (and they DO) I often wonder who I’ll tell. Who would believe me, or “get” the meaning I make of it all? A summer story is just too fun to keep quiet about.
Imagine me praying on a beach. Bright hot day. A friend and I are huddled against a drift log, in the shade of a giant green and white umbrella. Families, kids, and dog walkers are dotted across acres of open sand at low tide. The praying was meant to close our accompaniment time. She’d asked. I gulped inwardly, still not confident with saying out loud what’s going on with me and God. I aim to be authentic, and my verbal prayers are very free form. So, this time I’m winging it with whatever comes to mind from our time together.
I gave thanks for the long view in front of us, all 30 miles south to Seattle’s skyline and the ghost of Mt. Rainer beyond. Yes, we mostly see the small bits right in front of us in life, but I was appreciating how the Divine perspective is more expansive. I affirmed that God “dignifies the ordinary,” a line from our sharing that felt particularly potent as we watched a slow barge boat pulling a heavy load. I prayed something like, “we trust you with the big picture even when our little part doesn’t seem like much.”
In our conversation, we’d appreciated together being spiritually “at ease” yet “available” to move into action with the Spirit in regular daily interaction. My prayer-words flowed into “help us be attentive and ready.” Then I looked up to see a bouncy black and white dog crouched in front of a woman holding a frisbee about 20 feet away. That dog was soooooo into it, ready to play. Full attention to the hand on the frisbee, hind legs bunched for launching after it, whichever way it flew. Who cares about the long view? Who cares what it means or how it matters. The game is ON, and this little beast is completely given over to the moment in JOY. I laughed. Yeah, we could be like that dog, I added!
Then my companion laughed too. “Did you hear,” she asked, “what the woman said as you prayed?” Nope. When I’d spoken of being “available”, the woman was walking past saying to the eager creature a happy, “Ready?” Then when I’d prayed about trust in God taking care of the bigger perspective, the woman responded to the dog’s retrieving success with arms flung up, “Yay!” I’d finally looked up at the end, when the dog had returned the frisbee and was prancing in anticipation of the next throw.
“Ready?… Yay!” Doesn’t that sound like a laughing God?
I appreciate the concept of synchronicity, the “meaningful coincidences” that Carl Jung described a hundred years ago. True, there’s no cause/effect relationship between my prayer and the dog’s day at the beach, but the overlap between them entirely affirmed our reflections. To me, I sense an inbreaking of Grace illuminating these moments. More than affirmed, Monday’s overlap was celebration—with glee and sunny freedom. I also sense “more than coincidence” in the scene because of its vividness. It returned to mind and heart unbidden for many days, with a smile and lift of my spirit. It was “weird” enough to capture my attention. But while it echoed nearly our exact language, it also stretched us toward JOY, a big marker of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
A “little thing” that many would call preposterous…. Now I’ve shared it out loud here, where I suspect some will get it. What if God really is like that? Preposterous, laughing with celebration. Not so serious or worried about my limited perspective, or the small things I do in faithfulness that don’t change the world.
I’d love to hear your experiences of synchronicity. What signals do you trust that Grace illuminated these moments?