I’ve just had a remarkable coincidence I want to share.
Each of us probably has our list of coincidences in our lives. The dictionary calls a coincidence a “remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” (You have to read that twice!) With our scientific, cause-effect mindsets it is difficult to explain a “coincidence" in our life, and, of course, that’s the point: we almost never can. But these coincidences do happen, they're real; maybe they are related to divine intervention; maybe they are just some sort of randomness that can only ultimately be explained by chaos theory; maybe they are just simply part of the Grand Mystery of life. But whatever happens “without apparent causal connection” the experiences almost always inspire a feeling of inexplicable wonder that goes with them.
Some coincidences just unexpectedly mess things up, but fortunately most of them are pleasant surprises that give us delight. Like the one that happened to me this week.
My tale begins with a fifty year context of “coincidental” connections with the Tibetan culture and people. My contact with Tibetan culture began in 1966 when I “coincidentally” discovered the gate of the Happy Valley Tibetan refugee center in Mussoorie, India, at the very moment when the British aide to the camp was also at the gate and invited me to join him to meet the director. Long story short, the director invited me to spend the summer there as a volunteer tending lovely and lively Tibetan refugee kids which became one of the highlights of my life. Out of this experience I was able to meet the Dalai Lama, visit other Tibetan centers in India, and I was launched into a series of several more experiences of very special and "coincidental” meetings with Tibetans over the years. Most recently, for example, with Cary Peterson’s introduction, she “coincidentally” mentioned she was looking for a sponsor for a Tibetan girl,the daughter of a woman she was sponsoring, and I have since become an educational sponsor of Sonam Dechen who is a student at that very same Happy Valley Tibetan center and school where I lived years ago. And closer to home, I recently met a Tibetan vendor in the booth next to mine at the Island County Fair, Passang Ghongpa, who was also living at the same Tibetan center at the same time I was there. My Tibetan “coincidence" list actually goes on, but I have made my point. (It does make me wonder about the incarnation possibility!)
So a week or so ago my neighbor Bob Effertz recently called out of the blue to ask if we might consider hosting a Tibetan woman and her daughter who want to spend some time on Whidbey Island to be near the local Tibetan lama. I quickly realized this opportunity follows the pattern of my “coincidentness" with Tibetans, and I immediately agreed to the hosting. But the story gets more fascinating. It turns out that when I met the woman I learned that we lived in that same Tibetan refugee settlement in northern India where I served as a volunteer fifty years ago. We know the same people and share common memories of our life there. How does it happen that someone “coincidentally” stays in my island home with whom I can share memories of living in the same place at the same time, at the other side of the globe, fifty years ago!?
We all know life is an endless adventure, the better lived when we are open to its surprising coincidences that remind us that we are not always in control, nor need we be, that life is not always explainable, and that something else is interacting with our lives besides our “plans.” Perhaps we meet a life partner through a “coincidence.” Or we we are in just the right place at the just right time. Or we find the perfect inspirational line out of book just when we need it.
There is no particular wisdom or perspective to add to a reflection on coincidence beyond acknowledgment that our lives are likely impacted by more mysterious and perhaps “ordered randomness" than we can even imagine. Coincidences remind us of that we are also engaged in Mystery beyond our ability to anticipate and control. For the most part, I find that exciting! Perhaps Spirit is, indeed, a bit of what in Native American lore is called the “Trickster!"
O.K., now it’s your turn to think of several important coincidences in your life. Remember the amazement and feeling of surprise and wonderment that followed. How did that happen? And you probably will never know!
May I encourage people to consider attending two important meetings for the Whidbey Community.
1) The Golden Rule Peace Boat is coming to Coupeville for a three day visit this week including a potluck gathering this Wednesday, August 17, from 5-7:30 to hear of their mission.
2) Come celebrate our state parks at a Sunday, August 21st community event at the So. Whidbey State Park