Coincidences. Are there really no such thing as coincidences? There are many who would assert this, come would say everything is part of God’s plan, others take a more cosmic interpretation, that everything in this universe is connected. In any event those who believe there is no such thing as coincidence feel that when things “come together” it was meant to be so. Of course the obvious question one might ask to this person if “what about those situations when things do not come together?” In those examples can we say they too were “meant to be” or more problematic, are they some sort of punishment for some deficiency in me or our world? It’s no wonder that many who embrace the “no coincidence” theory like to fall back on an innocent child’s faith, that the wonder and openness takes us places where our soul graves for satisfaction.
I used to be a radical follower of free will. I remember reading the writings of Pelagius and feeling I had finally found a theoretical soul mate. But over time such a limited and constricted theory did not serve me well as I encountered things I could not understand, events that seemed connected even though there was little reason to think they were. In short there was much my analytical mind could not comprehend so I began to shift to a more “mysterious” approach to events and life circumstances.
I should say that I was always a person of faith so this shift did not move me to the Divine. Even when I followed a more radical notion of human free will I believed there was a Creator and that this Creator had a purpose for Creation, a holy intent, if you will. I assumed that our will would be fulfilled in that purpose and together, as Co-Creators, we could make the world as it was meant to be.
I’ve shifted over time. Not least of which were the influences of indigenous peoples whose connection to non-rational experience taught me that leaning exclusively on the rational was both arrogant and extremely limiting. I remember listening to a doctoral student at the Congress of the Humanities present a paper on the African notion of what we call pantheism (a term no indigenous person would use, a very western interpretation) and the evangelical expressions of western Christianity and how these both complimented each other and were often in tension. He shared the experience of one Pentecostal preacher who grew his church in the thousands with deeply personal conversions but who also would speak of the spirit of the land in the same breath. What were his superiors in the Pentecostal church to do with that?
There is an energy, a spirit, a presence, to Creation that defies very limited notions of human freedom and Divine determinism. I still believe in the purpose of Creation. Both Psalm 148 and 150 says it best.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
I don’t know about plans and coincidences. I do know about order, connections, and Creation and I feel I am called to praise and participate in all of these divine rites. It’s less about “a plan” or “a choice” but more about participating in something that is, a melody that calls us to dance and give thanks and work to welcome others to the movement.