How many times have you experienced a coincidence or synchronous event in your life? If you would take the time to actually think about it, I’d be willing to bet you’d say many times. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, coined the word synchronicity to mean what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Basically what it means is the appearance of two or more events which are unrelated but occurring together in a meaningful way.
These synchronous events or coincidences occur in our lives when we least expect it and are unlikely to occur together by random chance. Renowned Author Deepak Chopra, M.D. says that coincidences are not accidents but in fact the universe giving us signs or guiding us toward our true purpose or destiny. These bits of universal guidance often drop in and out of our lives without being noticed.
According to Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” I couldn’t help but think of these wise words the other day. I had gone to mass for Easter Sunday with my husband and two daughters, Erica and Lia. We arrived at church 15 minutes early hoping to get a seat but the church was already packed and there was not a spare seat in the house. My husband found us a spot along the back wall and we planned on standing through the entire mass along with a bunch of other parishioners. However, this was not to be.
Within minutes, a man walked up to us and told us that there was another mass taking place in the parish center and we would surely get a seat if we go there. Without a moment’s hesitation, we left the church and walked to the parish center which is adjacent to the church. We quickly found four seats in the second to last aisle. A few minutes later, someone lightly nudged me to my left and I turned to see a neatly dressed, seemingly nice woman take the seat next to mine. She looked at me and we exchanged smiles.
The past few weeks have been particularly trying for me. I have had so many things going on in both my professional and personal life that it has been difficult and challenging at times. So as I sat there, I wasn’t exactly feeling joyous. Instead, I found myself questioning many aspects of my life and asking God to give me strength.
Suddenly I saw Fr. Frank walk down the aisle to the altar and a smile crossed my face. He is one of the most dynamic priests in the parish and my favorite. He is a great speaker and also speaks loud and clear…a huge benefit to me since I am hearing impaired.
Fr. Frank went on to talk about the purpose behind Easter. On this day, he told us, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But then he went on to say something that really grabbed my attention. “There is no real proof of the resurrection,” he said. “We can neither prove it nor disprove it.”
He went on to tell a beautiful story about his father. He told of how when he was younger he and his father were having a conversation about the resurrection. His father, he went on, said something very profound. He told his son that the Apostles were actually proof of Jesus’ resurrection. Had Jesus not been real and had Jesus not risen from the dead, he told his son, the Apostles would not have hung around and kept the message of Jesus alive. If they did not truly believe, they would not have written about it and Christianity would have eventually fizzled out.
Father Frank had everyone’s attention as he then added that we, too, were proof of the resurrection because we believed and we were there on Easter morning celebrating Jesus. A smile again crossed my face as I thought how true his words were and related them to my own life.
Suddenly, it came time to recite the Our Father. In our church, some people hold hands as they recite the prayer while others don’t. I am, I must admit, bashful and never reach out to hold someone’s hand. But on this day, things were going to be different. The woman to the left of me grabbed my hand and gave it a tight squeeze. For reasons that I cannot explain I felt such warmth coming from this complete stranger. When I turned to look at her, she again gave me this warm smile.
As we neared the end of the Our Father, this beautiful stranger raised her hand and mine in the air. I was a bit shocked by this and turned to look at her. Again, she met my gaze with the sincerest smile. I was amazed by the strength of this woman’s faith and could feel her love, energy and warmth literally go through me.
A short time later, it was time to offer the sign of peace. For those of you who are non-Catholic, this simply means that we turn to each other, shake hands, and offer each other peace by saying, “Peace be with you.” When I turned to this woman, I extended my hand but instead of accepting my hand, she shook her head as if to say, “No.” Then she gave me a big hug, kissed me on the cheek and said, “Happy Easter!” I stood there absolutely dumbfounded as I looked into her kind eyes.
I was literally on cloud nine for the rest of the mass. I wanted to hug this beautiful woman again and again. I know she was not consciously aware of the gift she had given me. But I have no doubt she knew intuitively. As we walked out of the church, my husband commented on how he was surprised to see me holding that woman’s hand. “You never do that,” he told me as we walked to our car. “I know,” I replied as a smile crossed my face. “Wasn’t that a beautiful mass?” As my husband nodded in agreement, I thought, God really does work in mysterious ways. I walked into that church with a heavy heart but I walked out with renewed faith. I left with my prayers answered. I had asked God to give me strength to keep going and I got it.
Now, had we not arrived too late to get seats for the main mass, I would not have enjoyed that powerful, clear Easter sermon from my favorite priest nor would I have sat next to that wonderful, uplifting woman at a time when I truly needed it. Nor would my prayers have been answered. Was this just a coincidence or was it a synchronous event? To me, it was the latter. It was a beautiful unexpected gift of guidance when I needed it most.
This blog is dedicated to my Visits from Heaven group on Facebook. Since the very beginning, I’ve known that starting this group was no accident. So many wonderful stories have been shared, people have been helped and others have opted to start their own groups on Facebook. I am so grateful. To repeat the words of Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Thank you all.