ser·en·dip·i·ty: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a tale called The Three Princess of Serindip.
The Gift of Serendipity, which I am discovering along 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù or The Way of the Gift) is not the kind which has anything to do with what we easily call ‘luck’ or ‘good fortune’.
It is the kind which reminds us that everything has meaning.
This week I am reminded of it, as I remember an ancient story.
One which has a happy ending, like most stories.
And our life.
There was a beautiful girl who fell in love with a handsome young man.
Their wedding was a big & happy affair, people coming from far & wide to celebrate with them this joyous occasion.
Family & friends all wished them well.
Happiness & success.
Whishes wich soon seemed to come true, as two beautiful sons were born, at an appropriate time after the wedding, in short succession, accompanied by an easy life & comfortable income for the handsome young man with which he could provide for this new happy family.
As in most stories, and in life, just when we think everything is too wonderful to be true, disaster struck.
Not only for this beautiful family.
For all families of this land.
A terrible drought hit their shores, depleting food supplies & the ability for the handsome young man to take care of his happy family.
One morning, desperate for survival, this family was swept away by circumstances, to a far off land, a place where they might be able to live & where the handsome young man could be able to sow his earnest effort to reap a harvest which would sustain them again.
Quite a journey it was.
Quite a thing to move so far away.
To settle amongst new people whose tongue & heart were difficult to understand.
And the sons of happiness grew and they ate again, even recapturing some of the unbridled happiness which showered their first beautiful moments.
And just when we would think, all is now well, the sons of happiness eagerly reaching for adulthood, again the story reminds us of how it is in stories & in life.
The handsome young man, who promised to love & cherish, till death do us part, suddenly departs for another world & another time, leaving the beautiful girl to fend for herself & their sons, all alone, in this far off land.
Which she does, for in their sons.
Once again swept onwards by the current of circumstance, she sees every day the face of that handsome young man who completed her and she provides food & love & hope.
And the sons of happiness become men of happiness in their own right.
Citizens of a new world, which loves them, as the roots of blessings & well wishes reach out to them from a far off land & a long ago time.
Two girls fall in love with these two handsome men of happiness.
And as life is, where love becomes, wedding bells ring.
The once beautiful young girl, again so very happy & proud.
Sad as well, for it would have been even happier had her handsome young husband been there to share the moment’s joy.
And the two handsome young men of happiness settle with their beautiful young brides, always taking care of their mother who has taken care of them for so long.
Until one morning.
The reverberation of joyous wedding bells still a soft echo in their heart.
Suddenly to be replaced by mourning, as three women stand, in the rays of early morning light, at their graves, to cover their empty bodies with soil.
And tears streak across her being, staining the cloth of hope, again.
A life destroyed.
Concieved with so much hope, to be & live & do, yet none of it came to life.
Death always robbing her, alongside drought & hunger & just enough for one day.
Circumstance the energy dragging the always onwards.
And so one morning she decides to return home.
The once beautiful young girl, on a sad journey, accompanied by a too young widdow who could not even taste the solace of holding a son to her chest to hide the graveside tears.
And they arrive home.
Or where once home was.
For one of them.
Where home could be for the other.
The once beautiful young girl drenched in bitterness.
Her widdowed daughter, resilient.
And she falls in love.
And wedding bells ring.
And a son is born.
And the once beautiful young girl smiles again.
A different good now filling her life.
And then we’re told, this grandson, born from a widow’s womb, is ancestor to another.
A shepherd boy who goes on to be king & is called friend by God.
Whose son receives ultimate wisdom.
Whose lineage lead to a humble barn in Bethlehem.
As it does in stories & in life.
This the Gift of Serendipity.
Our lives always meaningful.
Beyond what we can see or touch or taste.
The circumstance, the grave, the crying baby & being swept away to far off lands, the rejection or loss and gain & loss again, always fortuitous.
Meaning woven into every moment, every experience, by (s)He who is the Gift & the Way, along 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù or The Way of the Gift ).
And I do not have to search or ask.
I do not have to wonder.
I can be sure, it all is filled to the brim with sense & value & purpose.
The simple supper at an inconvenient time.
The simple home on a different storey.
The watching of a movie.
The card game or bike ride or short trip to a new destination.
The meeting of someone new and the spending of time with someone I’ve met a long time ago.
All of it included.
Intricately involved in something so big and delicate, I could never imagine or concieve it.
The cup of coffee.
The walk along a river.
The tears shed in solitude.
The laughter shared.
The meager healing.
The moments of becoming.
All of it – all of it – eloquent moments of significance, stitched together, with similar moments in other lives, lived before & still & yet to be, as we are part of an incredible existence serendipitously breathed into life.
And as it is in stories & in life, even though we may not see, the truth will be.
Although, how wonderful it becomes, as we become.
Of the Gift of Serendipity.
And so I hope, for me & for you, as we wake & walk & weave our lives, thrushed forward by the current of circumstance, that we may know, amidst it all is meaning & significance, so prodigious, when once we see, we will be astounded by it all.
And as I embrace this gift, I savour a little more.
The walk to the train station to buy a ticket & the riding of my bike to teach a class.
The rhythm of us all.
And happiness finds it easier to nestle in my being.