coincidence?

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything about what God’s been doing in the past few weeks, because it’s been amazing and a hundred percent Him.  This month, He’s really shown me a lot and put me in different people’s paths.  In the past few weeks, I’ve had so many long conversations with people about God, what they believe, why they struggle with the ideas of Christianity, and what’s been going on in their lives.

During one of these conversations, my friend looked at me very seriously and intently and asked me if I believed in coincidences.

No.  I don’t.

The more I begin to see these connections, and the more I “coincidentally” run into people, the more I realize that everything fits together in a way that I can’t possibly imagine, orchestrated perfectly in an intricate, weaving dance by a Creator who knows what He’s doing more than I do.  Sometimes I imagine what it would look like to map out, lining out each person’s interaction with others as these lines converge and diverge, but that’s too overwhelming of a thought.

A few weeks ago, I felt that I should text this friend to tell her that she was loved, and so I did.  The day after that, I went to her dorm room and we talked for an hour and a half about God, Jesus, grace, and forgiveness.  And, coincidence.

I asked her why she wanted to know my views on coincidence, and her answer absolutely amazed me.  She said that she almost started crying when she got that text from me, because she had been going through so many horrible things at that very time, and it was exactly what she needed to hear.  She looked at me hesistantly and asked me if I’d known.  I chuckled and told her that I honestly had no idea.

I don’t believe in coincidence (at least on the important things.  You and your friend both wearing the same shirt is probably not that meaningful).  I think that God moves people and uses us, in all of our fallability, to do His work.  And what He did with that text message made Him more tangible to my friend, who had doubted if God even existed.

Since then, I’ve “run into” so many different people.  I happened to sit by a girl who goes to my church last weekend on a five hour bus ride, and we talked the entire ride.  She was also on the bus back, and took me back to campus when I didn’t have enough cash for a cab.

While visiting my friend, who also speaks Spanish, we met a homeless woman from Madrid and talked to her for a long time.

All these high school seniors are visiting my school right now, too, and some of them are staying with students.  I walked into my suitemate‘s room to find a kid that I went to pre-first with and figured out that all this time, we’d been living in the same neighborhood back home.

God does these sorts of things all the time, and there is no way that all of these coincidences could be coincidences.  It’s honestly impossible.

It’s like hearing a song and then realizing that it’s playing on the radio all the time, or meeting a person and then seeing them all over campus, or your neighborhood, or wherever you frequent the most.  Once you see God, and once you realize that He’s working, these random happenings grow extinct as you begin to see Him all the time.  He’s always been there.  You’d just never noticed it before.

A coincidence is nothing more than our inability to see.  A coincidence is when we don’t notice God moving in a powerful way and decide to attribute his magnificent power to mere chance.

So no, I don’t believe in coincidence.  I believe in God.

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the poet

The Diviner

Cut from the green hedge a forked hazel stick
That he held tight by the arms of the V:
Circling the terrain, hunting the pluck
Of water, nervous, but professionally

Unfussed. The pluck came sharp as a sting.
The rod jerked with precise convulsions.
Spring water suddenly broadcasting
Through a green hazel its secret stations.

The bystanders would ask to have a try.
He handed them the rod without a word.
It lay dead in their grasp till, nonchalantly,
He gripped expectant wrists. The hazel stirred.

~Seamus Heaney

Excuse me while I try to form my feelings and hazy ideas into something that makes sense.

So the week before Spring Break (two weeks ago, I suppose), we were talking about Seamus Heaney in my Irish class.  I adore Heaney, and his poetry is beautiful and meaningful and very much a living thing.  Among all of the things that he has to say about life and Ireland and all the rest, something that struck me the most was his talk of the role of the poet.

Now by poet, I don’t mean strictly someone who writes poetry.  That sounds funny.  Let me explain.  I mean “the poet” in a broader, more ancient sense, one that encompasses more than rhyming or what you may normally associate with poetry.  I mean the poet as a sort of epic hero, who brings truth to his people, sometimes painfully.  This is the traditional Irish view of the poet, or senchaí: someone with great power that speaks the truth, even to the king, and that some fear.  He has the power of sight, and can use his words in satires against his enemies.

Or like the Oracles of Ancient Greece: someone who is chosen to be a mouthpiece of the divine, someone who is spoken through. Which brings me to the most important parallel to the poet, the true calling of such a person: the prophet, someone who carries the truth from God to the people.  Although this brings to mind the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke with God (how amazing!), you can still be a prophet today.  Anyone that God uses to speak through is a prophet, and God most certainly still speaks to people.

And around this time in my class, as we’re talking about poetry being made up of partly scop, or craft (being a good writer), and partly vates, or prophesy or vision, speaking the truth, I start freaking out.  Really freaking out, and zoning out of some of the discussion or being way too much into other parts of it.  I can feel myself getting excited all over again as I type this.  I’m looking at my paper right now, and I have little notes scrawled all over it, like:

my heartbeat shakes my whole body in trembling rhythm with the hand of God,

Or this overly-excited realization of the poet’s job:

poet as a go-between!
a translator of truth!
a diviner!
a mouthpiece!
a prophet! an oracle!
a tool in the hands
of He who holds all Truth
a liminal, ferried between
two worlds,
granted another sight by the
Everlasting

poet as messenger
of the eternal, birthright
of an oracle
why am I almost twitching?

a mortal body and an
eternal soul,
like all the amphibians of humankind.

and I am suddenly restless,
yearning, churning, swelling
with a feeling I don’t know
and a desire for something past
this mortal coil.
My heart is beating with desperate purpose.

So, I was freaking out.  And still am.  Because I couldn’t, and honestly can’t, imagine a greater purpose than being spoken through.  The lump in my throat tells me that I desperately want that, to have a purpose, to have this purpose, but I don’t know.  I honestly don’t know.

We read another poem that day called “St. Kevin and the Blackbird” (click), where a bird makes a nest in St. Kevin’s hand and he is responsible for their lives and can’t move until they leave.  I talked to my professor about the role of the poet and such things after class on my way to study for my calc exam (that was easy to focus on after all of this).

I wrote down all that I could remember of what he said.  He looked at me and told me that the calling of the poet is not an easy one to accept.  He asked me to remember St. Kevin.  What did he do?  He went out to the wilderness and hid away from everyone else.  But God found him anyway.

You were made with a purpose, and you’re here for a reason.  I watched the movie Hugo a few days ago (which I heartily recommend), and was nearly moved to tears by certain parts of it.  There’s one part in there where Hugo and Isabelle are talking about purpose.  Hugo looks at people like machines and wonders if they too become “broken” when they lose their purpose.  It’s beautiful.  And then he says this:

“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason too.”

You are not an extra part.  I really identify with Isabelle.  I wonder what my purpose is, too.  But I know that I have one, because God has given me one.  We were each made for something.  And I trust that He will help me find that something.

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See this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcdEXHIuTxw  Seriously, watch this movie.