I stood in line at the post office. The line was long but no one minded the wait. The cold blast from the air conditioner was a sigh of relief from the piercing sun that baked the urban landscape into a muggy hot mess. This didn’t stop customers from tapping their feet, folding their arms in a sign of defiance for the long wait, or still others pulled from the present moment into their electronic devices. I was no different. Tapping the love letter I held between my fingers, behind me, flapping it gently in the air. My mind was elsewhere, no, truthfully, it was engrossed in worry. It was for this reason I had tuned out the conversation being batted back and forth between one of the postal workers and a customer. This was perhaps the main reason for the long line, which, when I first dropped in wondered why this would be a conversation had between a person delivering mail. Nonetheless, I was the new guy in town, and certainly was none of my business. Even though I tuned out, there are always certain words that will pull us in. Similar to when we hear our name called across the room. It is a frequency that tunes us in, focuses our attention. So it was that this customer started talking about Eckhart Tolle, which was followed by his comment, “there are no such things as coincidences.” This tuned me in, partly because I am fascinated by some of Tolle’s work, but mostly by the fact that, no sooner had this man made his comment about coincidences the postal worker chimed in immediately, “yes, there are.” Their eyes met tenuously. An awkward silence briefly existed between them. The customer did not pursue the opportunity. Rather, he took his receipt, thanked the postal worker for his time, and walked away. In some small way, I would have appreciated a little tete-a-tete allowing them to follow their arguments into a deeper philosophical inquiry. It was obvious neither of them would have enjoyed that and left it alone.
Was it a coincidence that I was standing in line right at that time to hear that conversation? Was it a coincidence that it fueled a reflection on my part and has now found its way here to serve as an introduction to a much longer conversation? Perhaps. But, if we believe that events happen as a result of coincidence, perhaps we are not allowing ourselves to dig a little deeper into life. Perhaps this is exactly what we should be doing with our time when we are standing in line. When we are too busy at work. When we spend time with with our loved ones — untangling coincidences to reveal the beautiful thread that is our pilgrimage.
The challenge is the always at the beginning. When you find that first thread, when you think about that one moment when life wasn’t a coincidence but rather a pilgrimage a story is woven that can be quite beautiful. So it must begin, the realization that events in life are less mere coincidence but rather the guiding hand of God.