Serendipity

Bruce and I love to walk at Chrissy Field. After more than 15 years in this City by the Bay the views still astound us and cause us to stop, look and give thanks.  We especially love the old pier just to the east of the Golden Gate – the view of the bridge is magnificent from there and the hot chocolate in the Warming Hut quite yummy after a brisk walk!  We love to walk along the water’s edge, listen to the waves pound against the rocks, watch the children and dogs run and play, and feel the freshness of the air cold against our cheeks. Tucker loves to come along but since dogs aren’t allowed on the pier I have to carry him bundled up inside my jacket.  On one particularly windy and foggy day I really didn’t think I had time to go walking but Bruce insisted and so along I went, rather grudgingly I must admit.  Oh am I glad that I did, for we were graced with a bit of serendipity. Don’t you just love that word?  Serendipity: the gift of fortunate discovery by accident of things one is not really looking for.  Serendipity, definitely one of my favorite words!  I even used have it on my vanity license plate until I decided I really didn’t need to spend extra money every year to be reminded that all of life is a gift, not of my doing or my making, and always there for me to discover anew and then, like a child on Christmas morning, to relish and delight in.  I believe our spiritual journeys are about waking up to Life and being present to the Holy in each moment, in each breath, in each experience… Serendipity:  discovering sometimes quite by accident all the surprising places where God abides.

But back to my story.  On this very cold and rather dreary day, the last thing I expected to find was a friendly, quiet large and a bit-full-of-himself pelican. If I were to write a song about “My Favorite Things” pelicans would be pretty near the top, so you can imagine how delighted I was.  This silly, fearless pelican preened and poised for the camera as Bruce snapped photo after photo, getting so close he could have reached out and touched him.  I stood transfixed for I don’t know how long, until finally I was so cold I had to move.

What a gift!  we were graced with a timeless moment of sheer delight and utter joy that we weren’t looking for or even really prepared to experience – my jacket was much too thin for such a cold day and I really thought I needed to be elsewhere!  I wonder, how many such serendipitous moments do I miss because I’m in such a hurry or so distracted or so full of myself?  How many grace-filled moments do I overlook because the eyes of my heart are closed?  How many blessings do I turn away because my heart is just too full of other things?

One of my spiritual practices during this season of Lent is to slow down and pay attention, to stop multi-tasking and truly be open to Life, right here, right now.  It isn’t nearly as easy as I might hope, but my preening pelican reminds me that serendipity abounds and if I’m not present, I’ll miss out on all the beauty, and the fun!  Ann Lamott says that “Grace is a ribbon of mountain air that gets in through the cracks.”  Thanks be to God for serendipity, and for the chinks in my armor that allow God’s grace to get in and do it’s amazing, transforming work.

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