Coincidence and other Close Encounters with Darn-Near-Destiny (Not Far from the Courthouse Square)

(for Marlene, because we love you so much!)

My partner Sara and I had a 4th of July weekend bracketed by beauty and the message that making meaning, like gaining independence, requires risk and a periodic willingness to believe in miracles.  Whether it’s the democracy we value in America or the small but lovely fact of flowers blooming, life offers beauty in a myriad of forms, miracles in a million stunning disguises.

But, here’s how it happened—

Friday evening Sara and I finally used the gift card my family gave us for Christmas and had dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, a la lucie, in downtown Lexington.

We went early, had dinner reservations for six.  I wore my new blue dress.  Sara opted for casual—khaki slacks and Birkenstocks.  We walked the three blocks.  We sat in the window.  We watched the world walk by, across from the courthouse square.

After hors devours of artichoke and parmesan souffle, Sara had the red snapper topped with pesto; I ate pasta, my usual faire of carbohydrate and too much French bread.  But, just as were finishing dessert—delicious, chocolate truffle cake—just as I was swallowing the last bite—Sara saw her mentor walking by, a well-known Kentucky architect she’s worked with on and off for years.

Ironically, on our walk to dinner, Sara had been sharing her strategy for employment—one she said she wanted to discuss with this mentor—a man she rarely sees, a man who lives in another town, but one who happened to be walking by our window just as dinner was done.

Now, I try not to make too much of this seeming synchronicity, and, yes, maybe we read too much into it.  Yet, here’s how we interpret the “coincidence”—if you insist on calling it that—

Sara has had an extraordinary professional life, responding to disasters the world over.  Whether it was the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia or the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Sara has been at the center of each intervention, directing her NGO’s response in both instances.  So, for her to be out of work seems nearly inconceivable to us. 

At the same time, however, we both believe life is about making meaning, creating it by helping others.  We believe in purpose and destiny.  We believe in God or whatever you want to call that thing that makes life meaningful to us as human beings.   We know there’s something for us to be doing.  We don’t know what it might be or how it might happen.  But we hope.  We believe.

We’re the kind of people who read meaning into random close encounters with mentors on city streets, who believe that Friday night, our window at a la lucie just might have been a window on the future, a window on grace—

Then something else happened—little things that made me believe it even more—

Saturday afternoon we saw Terrence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life.  We walked downtown again.  It was sunny and hot.  We wore shorts.  I planned to eat popcorn.  It was an ordinary summer day—an extraordinary message.  For Malick’s visually stunning film reminded us, greasy-fingered as we were, that life requires us to ask questions, to wrestle with reality.  It requires us to tease out truth, to trace the rough outline of our lives for the shadow of something more.

It was a message reiterated when we watched fireworks from our front porch on Monday evening, a message mirrored in the night sky—in the bright light made of a million lesser lights bursting on the horizon.

the miracle of my first fireworks photo

It was a message we saw when a sick friend’s flower finally blossomed in our backyard—flowers we transplanted after a recent trip to Georgia—our dear Marlene’s bulbs, blooming like lungs in garden mud.

Marlene's flower bloomed yesterday.

So, yes, our weekend was bracketed by beauty, of sorts—by new meaning in the seeming madness—a reason for Sara’s unemployment, my cousin’s cancer (or Marlene’s for that matter). 

So, maybe, just maybe, our window at a la lucie opened not on the courthouse square, as it would seem, but opened instead on opportunity, on a friend’s flowers, blooming summer after summer—the magic of Marlene in the beauty of forever.

(And in the meantime, Sara’s meeting with her mentor Thursday—an early lunch, not far from the courthouse square . . . )

36 thoughts on “Coincidence and other Close Encounters with Darn-Near-Destiny (Not Far from the Courthouse Square)

  1. Oh thank you for this. I have just been sitting wondering why I’m feeling so stuck with my writing, thinking everything feels a bit mundane and uninspiring. Then I read your post and I am immediately taken up again with the wonder of life and especially other people’s lives – I know it sounds mad but this was exactly what I needed to read this morning so again thank you. I’m not really keen on coincidence theory but making meaning – you’ve always got me. Great post Kathy.


    • Ah, thanks, dear Penny! I’m so glad this post spoke to you. I struggled with it–worried that I was not clearly communicating what I intuited. It was so much a feeling–that somehow things were meant to be!


  2. Sitting here in London, in a moment of stillness, reading your post. Oh how it speaks to me as we here count the moments until my daughter’s second child decides on the moment to appear. The doctors say the baby is already 8 days “late,” but we know that this is nonsense. This perfect little being is exactly on his or her own perfect schedule. So we wait.


    • And there can be such wonder in the waiting–at least if we embrace it for what it is–perfect timing–even if it would seem otherwise! Oh, Renee, can’t wait to hear your wonderful news–blessings to you, your family, and that baby-soon-to-be!


  3. I do NOT believe in coincidence…
    I imagine you guessed as much.
    I DO believe we must wait, sometimes, to know the whys and hows of things…the pieces of our lives that make no sense…but always do, to God.

    I pray for continued peace for you and for Sara…as you seek the path to follow.



  4. There is synchronicity in this post for me! I’ve been slumped in an armchair the last hour or so, wondering what comes next in my life … back to school, new job, volunteer work, etc.? I rarely slow down long enough reflect on where I am, how I got here or the future pathway. But I see the beauty now in being open, relaxed and receptive about what comes next, “… to ask questions, to wrestle with reality … to tease out truth, to trace the rough outline of [my life] for the shadow of something more.” Thank you for this. I promise not rush it!


    • I’m so glad to hear you won’t rush it, Cheryl! Life is worth waiting for! I believe the good will come sooner or later–maybe later than I would like–but good in its own perfect timing! Thanks for this comment! It’s great to hear from you!


  5. Thank you for the message of hope that you have blessed us with through this post. I think our “meeting” has been a sign of things in my life, and I’m very open to the messages of what is yet to come.


  6. I love a good synchronicity story, Kathy– thank you for sharing! It’s always encouraging to hear about signs and messages being offered to friends who are at a crossroads. I hope Sara’s meeting with her mentor goes well!


  7. I believe firmly it the truth of what you are saying. It called to mind a post I wrote last year that seems to resonate a bit with what you are saying. Don’t think I can say it any better than I did there so will just point you towards it 🙂


  8. The message of hope, and life’s small miracles, can’t be overdone. I have the feeling good things are on your event horizon, and in the meantime, take time to smell Marlene’s flowers.


  9. All it takes is a little shift in our perspective to live in the Flow. Everything is a sign, every encounter has meaning, if we choose to see.
    Blessings to you and Sara.


  10. It seems like much more than coincidence to me. I was about to follow that with “everything has meaning” but I see you already said (wrote) that in the comment above. 🙂


    • I agree that it really isn’t a “coincidence.” It just seems like one needs to acknowledge that everyone may not see it that way. But, how great to know you do! Everything does, indeed, have meaning!


  11. This was a great post! I really like how you told the story. I believe that we don’t always get what we want in life, but we may get what we need. And we have to grab at the opportunities that come along seemingly by coincidence.


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