I’m a serendipitite and that’s okay.
I understand serendipitite is not a word … rather, was not a word … but I now declare it to be one!
Serendipity: an occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Serendipitite: a person who believes serendipity can be used by God.
Okay, okay, I’ll explain…
It occurred to me just a couple of days ago that I was feeling a malaise, a kind of low grade sadness. I’m not one given to mood changes and I am generally an even keeled, calm, rational kind of person, yet I have to admit that this pandemic is a difficult time for me in many ways.
I’m concerned about my health. I have no significant issues but I had a terrible bout with flu and pneumonia a year ago and I’m uncertain how I would deal with covid-19. I’m concerned about Cheryl contracting it because she is in the same category as me.
I’m worried about our children because that’s what parents do. They are all healthy but the virus is unpredictable and some of them have respiratory complications. My dad is in his late eighties, not to mention extended family and friends who would be vulnerable. And what about those who are fighting separate battles with other diseases? Hospitals are horrifying places even under normal conditions without the additional weight of being a pandemic battleground.
I’m concerned about the economy. We have lost a lot of money due to the tumbling stock markets and every day is an adventure in wondering what is next. Many people are losing jobs or being forced to cut back hours, still others emptying their bank accounts and credit reserves just to put food on their tables. There is no guarantee how long it will take to return to health even after the pandemic is under control.
My son and his fiancé have a wedding scheduled for May …
I admit to a deep sadness as I hear of people ignoring physical distancing because they ‘have our rights’, or watching leadership in the U.S. openly valuing economy and lifestyle over the lives of people.
It is true that trouble exposes the soul of a society. And our souls are dry.
I serendipitously re-discovered a morning ritual awhile ago which I recently wrote about. Each morning I look at the sky and whisper, “Father, thank you for today”, then I open my heart and mind to the things I should pray about.
We have chosen to listen to selected news in order to be informed but otherwise we have cut it down to a fraction of what we watched before. We put our creative and emotional energy into other things.
I had been regularly checking the stock markets but instead I now force myself into an ‘end of the day’ synopsis. The only other updates I get are occasionally filtered through Cheryl.
I’ve serendipitously heard encouraging things from friends and family who are learning to be patient and accepting of this time in their lives.
Then one day I serendipitously stumbled on some wisdom from Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and Islamic scholar. It’s serendipitous because reading 13th century Persian scholars isn’t exactly a passion. Anyway, he wrote something I needed: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Hmm… Let that sink in: Light flows in through a wound.
We somehow imagine ourselves to be much more independent than we really are and we need the occasional ‘wound’ to enforce honesty. I see that in myself: my wounded times, my broken times, have inevitably led me to a deeper place in my soul.
The Lenten season serves that purpose every year. The more we can relate to the pain and honesty of the Crucifixion story, the more we are drawn back to the reality of our own weakness and need.
Then last Sunday I happened on an online worship service featuring a piano/flute duet of the familiar hymn Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent. When I say ‘familiar’ those were the words of the musicians, not mine. I would not have heard of the hymn had I not serendipitously found their first attempt at streaming their worship service.
I enjoyed the song so much that I went to Spotify and found a list of vocalists who had recorded versions of it. I serendipitously settled on a voice that belonged to someone named Aly Aleigha. She is an Indie-Folk singer with a mellow, wispy voice who, as it turns out, often leads Catholic gatherings in worship.
Her music is pure and enchanting; her lyrics thoughtful and meaningful, and I was hooked. Two songs in particular have had heavy rotations of Brian listening: You Are is an honest song about her wonder at the Creator King who reached down and enraptured her. Awestruck is a skyward celebration of the strong but gentle presence of God across our world.
Her music has been a balm for me, cleaning the wounds, letting in light. (And when nobody is watching I have become quite an amazing backup singer for her.)
During the past days the previous series of small, random occurrences came together to help me and bring me peace. I had a role in the seeking; God had a role in the finding. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
In another twist of serendipity I came across this biblical scene as I was reading. The book of John tells it like this:
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (from John 20, NLT)
Here are Jesus’ closest friends, in voluntary isolation just to preserve their lives. They are physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, bankrupt and they have nowhere to go. All that matters to them is gone; all their futures are crushed; all they believe in is dead.
But at some serendipitous moment Jesus appears from somewhere and stands with them. His first word to them is Peace.
He shows them his wounds – his open wounds. Jesus’ wounds bring truth and meaning to his disciples; they bring light.
Again he repeats the word, Peace.
And even though their fear is real, even though his wounds are real, peace fills the room.
Becoming a serendipitite
I suppose some people like big, shiny miracles and emotions but God’s best work is through the serendipitous moments of life when he can speak peace to us.
In the last few days I have a new peace that:
- If we get sick, we will fight the sickness, and Jesus will be with us.
- If our children have trouble we will try to help them, and Jesus will be with us.
- If our culture crumbles under a load of greed and evil we will be good citizens, and Jesus will be with us.
- If we live or if we die we will be safe, and Jesus will be with us.
As my new favourite singer wrote in the song You Are:
You’ve enraptured me
In seeking you, I’m already found
The light shines in, the darkness all around
Yet the darkness will not overcome
Interesting how the Light shines most brightly through our wounds.