Serendipity

I am attracted to the idea of serendipity.  But I also find it mysterious.  It is one of those things I am confident happens, but at one level I am at a loss to explain it.  In that it resembles the Spirit.  That, too, seems true to me, but I cannot explain that one either.

We can always resort to the dictionary.  If you go there, you will find definitions to the effect that serendipity is finding something valuable, delightful, or sweet…and you did not expect it. In my simple words, serendipity is having good things happen that I did not plan for and could not have expected.  I cannot imagine anyone saying, “Oh please, do not let anything serendipitous happen today!  Please don’t let anything unexpectedly delightful come into my life.  Oh Lord, let nothing of value befall me this day.”

Serendipity is not the result of my plans.  I cannot scheme between breakfast and mid-morning coffee and guarantee that serendipity will deliver in the afternoon.  Serendipity is also not the result of hard work.  That does not mean I am against working hard.  In fact, I tend to think those folks who work diligently get some predictable payoffs.  But the payoffs usually are a direct result of their hard work.

Serendipity is not like that.  Serendipity is more like grace.  And that probably is a good way for me to see the link between serendipity and spirituality.  But I also do not think serendipity is the same thing as grace.  Grace is always a gift.  If I were teaching a class, I would probably say something to the effect that grace is an undeserved gift.  Grace comes when I have blown it and should suffer the consequences, but someone comes along and says, “you are forgiven.”  All you can say in the face of grace is gracias!

Yes, serendipity is like grace.  It is like grace in the sense that you do not see it coming.  You cannot have planned for serendipity.  It happens.  It is not about deserving it…or not deserving it.  So if serendipity does not happen today, I am not going to lament and say, “Dang, I was really unlucky today.”  Most folks I know are not sitting around expecting serendipity to show up.

On the other hand, I have a hunch serendipity somehow is connected to what we think and do.  If I am engaged with interesting people and interesting projects in my life, the chances of serendipity are greatly enhanced.  That does not guarantee serendipity will happen…but it makes it more likely it might happen. 

Another thing that seems true suggests that if I live life with more openness and, indeed, vulnerability, serendipity is more likely to happen.  I think openness is a key.  Openness means that I don’t close situations with my controlling nature.  Openness means I am alert rather than asserting my will to get my own way.  Openness leads with questions rather than answers or dictates.

I have a hunch serendipity sneaks into the cracks of my awareness.  If I am a controlling person, I do not take any chances…with serendipity or anything else.  If I am a total wallflower and wimp, I probably cannot recognize the presence of serendipity if it smacked me in the face!  Real life is lived somewhere between manipulation and mousy-ness.  It is in that opaque “now-but-not-yet” space in our lives that serendipity shows up with delightful opportunities.

When serendipity shows up in my life, it is suggestive, not directive.  Like grace, serendipity can always be ignored.  We can dismiss serendipity by assuming “life is not like that.”   But if we open ourselves…and if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, I think we become sitting ducks for serendipity!  And in this sense, I do think it is just like the Spirit.

So I am going to position myself this day with openness and whatever vulnerability I can muster.  I am volunteering to become a sitting duck for serendipity and God’s Spirit.  We’ll see what happens!

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