serendipityI have always tried to figure out a word to describe the connections and happenstance meetings and events that come together in strange ways to enrich our lives and sometimes make us gasp a little bit.  Serendipity does not quite get it because that definition is, well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

First here is what happened.  As you know if you read this blog Bill Sharpe was hospitalized and scheduled for surgery one day and then that was postponed so he went into surgery the next day.  In the meantime my Mother-In -Law was also hospitalized and we could not get a hold of her in her hospital room and when we talked to the nurses station they were in some kind of crisis that kept them from talking to us so I called my Mother – In – Laws church.  The secretary there who was very competent, friendly and caring.  I think her name is Mary Schmitz told me that the Pastoral  assistant Rev. Rick Kelm was at the hospital and she would call him and get him in touch with my wife’s mom.  He called within a few moments and informed us that the phone in the room simply wasn’t working and that all was well and put the patient on his cell phone.  So call it serendipity or coincidence or God’s providence, but what are the odds of that man being a few feet from that room at precisely that time?  He didn’t know she was there so it was fortuitous for him that I called.  We were worried and it was fortuitous that I called.  Would any of this have happened if I waited 10 minutes longer.  Maybe the secretary would be getting coffee or maybe Pastor Kelm would have left etc.

When I went to visit Bill, he informed me that former District President Larry Harvala was hospitalized on the floor above us, and so we went to see him.  That was interesting because on the way to the hospital I had been wondering and thinking about Pastor Harvala and a course he was teaching on preaching.  As we were waiting to be allowed into his room I saw a very attractive young lady staring at me as she walked down the hall.  Now I know that I am a forest troll so there had to be a reason she was staring and it wasn’t because of my good looks.  As she good closer I knew who she was but not how I knew who she was if you understand what I mean.  I recognized her but could not get the connection.  Turns out she is a relative of Esther Augustine whose funeral I could not attend because I was in the Dominican Republic (see blog for February 21).  She is also Rev. Harvala’s case manager and she got us into his room after we had a kind of reunion and catch up on all the family members and where everyone was.

It was also fortuitous that I was able to visit with Pastor Harvala because he was able to give me $100.  I had left my wallet and had no money.  My gas tank being empty I could not have gotten back home.  Bill being Bill and knowing that I was coming to visit sent all of his cash home.

Then there is the TV Dish guy.  Evidently we have upgrades available on our satellite dish.  The guy who installed it was very good and very efficient and he had an accent that I took to be Indian.  He was very interested in the Malaysian  airliner mystery and when I asked him where he was from he pointed at the TV screen and said, “there – Malaysia”.  I said this whole thing must be very sad for you and he said, “yes especially because I have cousins on that plane”.

To say that I was surprised would be a gigantic understatement (that is an oxymoron by the way) and I thought of math again.  What would be the odds of a Malaysian man who had relatives on this flight that I have been baffled by and following for a week would be in North Dakota at my house putting in a satellite dish at just this time?  My wife went and put her arms around him and gave him a hug and said that he would be in our prayers which he has been but chances are 6 in ten that he is a Muslim and the thought of us praying for him might have made him cringe.  He took it with great solicitude and told us that as he has been working all week on TV and satellite dishes,  he tunes the TV to a news channel that he knows will cover this mystery.  I can’t imagine how he must feel and I am praying for him.

So are these things serendipity?  Serendipity comes from the name of the Island off the cost of India that was called Serendip.  It is now Sri Lanka.  There was a book called “The Three Princes of Serendip” where these brothers made discoveries that were helpful and profitable while looking for something else.  Horace Walpole read the book and coined the word “serendipity” as a discovery of something while looking for something else.  We have used it I believe in common parlance as a good or profitable thing that we find when looking for something else.  I’m not sure that it was a happy circumstance to run into the bereaved and worried satellite guy.

Coincidence doesn’t work either – look it up.  Providence with a capitol P might be the word.

So continue prayers for my mother -in -law, Bill and Larry and the satellite guy.