Treasuring Divine Happenstance

Treasuring Divine Happenstance

Last week I shared about why I bought this painting. God had woven together three things: a pregnancy dream, a talk by Ray Hughes about saying “Yes” to God, and the symbolism in the painting. The message?

Continue writing.

Patrisha's painting at the Ray Hughes conference

Patrisha’s painting at the Ray Hughes conference

But a fourth piece to this puzzle remains. I didn’t explain the wave. Did you notice the wave coming over the land and not the sea? In mountainous areas like Montana, massive waters like a sea or an ocean don’t exist.

To complete the story of this encounter with God, I have to give you another piece of divine happenstance. Soon after finishing my first book, I had another vivid dream:

I am crossing a landscape scarred by a hurricane long ago. Wreckage is strewn about in all directions as far as the eye can see. Jagged planks of lumber, shattered window frames, pieces of boats, empty cans, broken wooden chairs, driftwood, shells and other rubble fill every square foot of land. Any stench is long gone, and the debris looks clean—whitened by the sun.

I carefully step over the wreckage, making my way toward a beautiful azure sea that is a mile out. I can see the thin strip of deep blue water on the horizon. The sky is crisp and clear with no hint of haze. A few lovely white clouds dapple the atmosphere.

This picture is as close as I could find, but doesn’t quite capture the miles of sun-bleached remains.

This picture is as close as I could find, but doesn’t quite capture the miles of sun-bleached wreckage.

Way out in front of me, I notice one other person. It’s Kathy Tyers, my first writing mentor. She seems to be making the same trek. She gestures dramatically, waving a complete sweep of her arm again and again, as if to say, “Come on, Susan! Keep going! Don’t give up! Follow me!” But she’s so far ahead, I can’t hear her voice.

It could take awhile to get there. I continue, step by step.

All of a sudden, I hear a faraway low rumble. Perhaps a plane is taking off. It starts to increase in volume. Something powerful begins to roar—a noise so loud it sounds like several planes, then 100 planes, and now 1,000 airplanes taking off all at once. The ground vibrates in violent unison, as I look backwards…Continue reading

Signposts – Part VI

Signposts – Part VI

We are intricately woven into an orderly framework designed by God. From time to time, we get to see a glimpse of it. Here is another amazing example…

In 2006, Cecil Murphey, one of my writing mentors, told me I should find a copy of Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach. He knew I was working on my book and felt my writing was similar to Laubach’s. Originally published in 1937, the book was currently out-of-print. I gave up too easily.

The summer of 2007, I traveled to Cleveland to help my parents move. My mother and I were sorting through their books, deciding what to keep or give away. I came across several works by Frank Laubach and immediately asked her if she happened to have a copy of Letters by a Modern Mystic. She didn’t think so. A conversation followed:

“Mom, how did you come across this author?” I asked. “I’ve never heard of him, until recently. A writing friend told me to find that book.”

“My mother and father knew him,” she said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. “You’re kidding!”

“You remember John Peters, the founder of World Neighbors?” she asked.

“Sure.” I nodded. “Nana and Pops knew him through their church in Columbus, right?”

“Yes,” she said. “Well, Frank Laubach and John Peters were contemporaries in the mission world. They were also friends.”

“No way!” What a small-world coincidence.

My mother handed me a stack of books for the giveaway pile. “In fact,” she continued, “you were too little to remember this, but those two men came to our house on Maplewood Road. They stayed the night with us.”

“What?” I looked at her straight on.

“It’s true. And Mr. Laubach brought a blow-up globe of the world for you. He inflated it and set you on top of it. You just laughed and laughed.”

I was stunned. Though I had no memory of it, my life had actually intersected with this man. His present felt symbolic to me. Was it chance? Or was it God.

The next spring, my daughter and her husband were packing up their things in Portland, Oregon to move to Montana. I flew out to help. My son-in-law’s mother, Terry, also came. I’ll never forget the moment she walked into their apartment. After exchanging hugs, Terry said that she and her husband, Richard, had been reading an amazing book together. When they finished it, they both thought that I should have the book. The writing reminded them of me. She pulled out a copy of Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach. His son, Robert Laubach, had just released a smaller version of the original book.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. God had my attention now…Continue reading

Signposts – Part III

Signposts – Part III

Coincidences are curious things. Mysterious, and yet, still commonplace—like a sneeze. Many don’t notice them. Some people pause for a moment, offering a half-smile. But few ponder whether or not a coincidence means anything beyond chance.

For almost a century, great minds have contemplated coincidences through a theory known as synchronicity. By definition, it means: the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, though they’re unlikely to be causally related. Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, introduced the concept in the 1920s and spent decades developing a fuller description.

He said, “When coincidences pile up…one cannot help being impressed by them – for the greater the number…or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes.”

Arthur Koestler wrote extensively on synchronicity in The Roots of Coincidence. Physicist and Nobel laureate, Wolfgang Pauli, and Albert Einstein noted the patterns as well.

What interests me most is Jung’s statement that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, wherein a person was both embedded in an orderly framework and was also the focus of that orderly framework(!) Any realization of this he maintained, was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also contained elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective, Jung said synchronicity is like an “intervention of grace.”

Okay, now back to planet normal where you and I live.Continue reading