Thursday, October 20, 2016


The word "serendipity," I learned, was coined in 1754 in a letter from one author to another, explaining the happy chance of learning something he had wondered about in a book he was reading. When I look up the word online, I find lots of boundaries for it--it can't be looked for, as it is partly related to chance; it isn't planned, but it can occur in the process of a planned event; it is always happy (there is another word for unhappy things that happen randomly; and it isn't just a synonym for chance as there's the happy element to it, too. I guess I would say that being in the right place at the right time to experience something that might not have occurred at another time or place--and that the experience is happy--is a good way to summarize what I read.

This morning I was walking from my car to my office and just happened to spy a hot air balloon flying low over the south end of campus, just above the trees. It had the morning sun shining on it, making it almost sparkle. I grabbed my phone to snap a photo before it was gone.
It looked like it was just sitting there, balancing on the trees. I just had to smile. Big.  

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were running an errand as the sun was setting. I commented on the beauty of the reflected rays of the snow on the mountain tops. I said, "Pull over. Let me take a picture!" He did and I did. I took three, trying to get some trees in the shot to frame the mountain better than in this first shot. But even in the moments spread from the first photo to the third, the sun had changed; the colors were not as spectacular. The moment was gone, almost as fast as I could say how beautiful it was. 

These are truly serendipitous moments, captured because I was in a time and place at just the right moment to see the beauty. I think of all the moments like this in my life--fleeting, happy, beautiful. Sometimes I try to take a mental picture, but they fade. These moments add something to the beauty of my life. In my church, we have a phrase, "tender mercies," to describe the little ways God blesses us that we might not notice if we aren't paying attention. I think these serendipitous moments are tender mercies. Like a genuine smile or a hug from a friend when you're feeling down, they are small in the big picture but oh so meaningful in terms of our spirit. I need to pay attention. I know there are more of them in my life than I remember. And how rich would my life be if I could record and remember them all! 

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