A Meaningful Coincidence

If you ask a scientist

If you ask a scientist about coincidences, chances are they’ll tell you that coincidences are the result of mathematical probability, i.e., “with a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.” – Persi Diaconis and Frederick Mosteller in Methods for Studying Coincidences (taken from an article by Julie Beck in “The Atlantic,” February 23, 2016)

I disagree. But then, I have faith – faith that all will be well, faith in my family and friends, faith in God. And faith isn’t measurable, at least not mathematically. I agree with Frederick Buechner, who said, “Coincidences are God’s way of getting our attention.”

In fact, sometimes they feel like little miracles.

I’ve been slowly working my way through poet and meditation teacher Stephen Levine’s A Year to Live: How to Live this Year as if It Were Your Last. It’s a powerful book that has changed my life.  But that’s another blog.

Levine worked for years with people in hospice care, helping them prepare to die. In his book, he shares a series of meditations and exercises that help us lose our fear of dying and feel prepared for the inevitable, whether we’re facing imminent death or just going about our lives, knowing that death comes to us all. He helps us understand and remember that death is just part of the cycle of life.

One of the things he learned from his patients is that they were greatly helped by making amends with those they had hurt along life’s journey. Forgiving ourselves is hard enough, but especially if we have unfinished business. He suggests we make a list of people we have wronged, and then approach them to see if they are willing to talk with us and let us apologize for our mistakes.

I started my list about a year ago. It was hard work. On it was a wonderful woman who was the unwitting victim of my petty jealousy some 40 years ago. Her name is Nancy, and she is one of the smartest, funniest, most open people you’ll ever be fortunate enough to know. I haven’t seen Nancy in at least 20 years.

I have been thinking about the need to get in touch with Nancy all this time. Months went by and it didn’t happen. I told myself that since Gene and I were back in Phoenix, I would run into her and could take it from there. One day I found her contact information but couldn’t bring myself to call her. What would I say? “Hi Nancy. It’s Pauline. I’m wondering if we could get together. I need to apologize to you.”

Then last night I was unable to sleep, and I happened onto Facebook. Who should be on the People You May Know list but Nancy. I immediately asked her to be my Friend, and she accepted. And now we are talking, catching up on each other’s lives and families. As soon as I can, I will apologize for my petty behavior.

And I will be one step closer to peace.

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