Coincidences


Last Saturday I noticed an amusing coincidence... I routinely listen to music while I read or write, and more so when I am doing paperwork, and I generally just set my substantial collection of music to shuffle itself in order to provide the audio-wallpaper. If I'm concentrating on what I'm doing I don't really pay much attention to the individual songs, but I was jarred out of what I was doing by the fact that two consecutive songs by different artists or different albums used exactly the same words in their introduction... the songs were "Becoming more Like Alfie" by The Divine Comedy, and "Michael Caine" by Madness, both of which use variations on the line "My name is Michael Caine". Bizarre! I can't imagine what the odds were... I'm sure I could calculate them, but I'm not that dull or devoid of more useful things to do...
It was an amusing, but essentially trivial coincidence...
But over the past few weeks more significant coincidences have taken place in my life, people contacting me and suggesting a coffee or turning up in unusual places at just the right time, and unprompted and unexpected words of encouragement just when I needed them. On two of those occasions they occured immediately after someone else had directly prayed with me or said they would pray for me.
They brought to mind Archbishop William Temple's famous statement:

"When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't, they don't."
My mother in law is a great believer in coincidences as signs of God watching over us, or prompts in the right direction... She compiles such stories and has even written about some of them in the light of her own bereavement in a book called "Joyful Witness", but I am also aware that many poo-poo such incidents as being our brain imposing meaning on chaos. They argue that we only see such events as significant when they actually occur and we ignore all the other incidences where nothing happens.
Coincidences or God-incidences? Statistically improbable miracles or retrospective re-interpretation of events?
Either way, the people involved have helped me to find my way through an apparently chaotic set of circumstances... So I thank them as well as the God whom I believe stands behind them...

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