A friend once told me that he would believe in God – or perhaps he said he’d consider believing – the moment God reached down, touched him on the shoulder and said, “Hey.” I mentioned that sentiment to another friend – a priest who happens to be a cosmologist and one of the Vatican astronomers – and he pointed out that Friend No. 1 might not ever feel the shoulder hello because he was not really open to that interaction. In other words, if you think everything is a coincidence, nothing can be attributed to the supernatural. Likewise, if you tend to lean toward thinking God is everywhere and sending signs of life daily, then coincidence appears to you to be something akin to an excuse.
Is it a coincidence that I’m thinking of my friend Kathy and she happens to call? Or is it what, in one circle of friends, we call “a God thing”? Is it a coincidence that looking at a stack of unread magazines that has been sitting on my desk for, lo, four months, I grab one from the middle and the first article I read answers a question regarding writing that I’ve been struggling with for nearly a year? Or is that God saying, “Here, try this”? Is it a coincidence that I miss my regular bus by just this much and have to take the next, on which is a woman who sits next to me, shaking, babbling, DT-ing, and my urge is to ignore her (standard bus behavior, to ignore the difficult people) but – more for me than her because I just want her to stop moving – I put my arm around her and she calms down and whispers, “Thank you” and I realize she, like so many of us, just needed someone (anyone) to notice she was suffering … or was that God? Is it a coincidence that I was having an extremely difficult day awhile back and someone – unaware of my situation – sent me the picture of the baby pig above which made the difficulty wane, or was that a God moment?
I think so much of seeing God is just looking. Which brings me to the Saint’s Name Generator, sent to me by the ever-cool Maria at Day by Day. I clicked on the “Show Me My Saint” link and it gave me St. Hyacinth, someone I’d never heard of. That’s not surprising really – that I’d never heard of him – since there are hundreds of Catholic saints, but what was surprising is that he’s the patron saint of people who fear drowning and I’m rather terrified of water; he’s a patron of Poland, and I’m half-Polish; he was a Dominican priest, and our primary parish is run by amazing Dominicans; and, finally, his relics are in (wait for it) Paris where we are headed in May to visit our daughter who is teaching over in northern France this year!
Maybe it was just coincidence that Saint Hyacinth was the Saint that the name generator pulled out of the computerized hat for me… but I think it was God saying, “Hey.” And for whatever reason, paying attention to that points me in the right direction. It doesn’t mean I always stay headed in that direction (I seem to need frequent reminders), but it means there actually IS a right direction for me, and as long as I keep my eyes open, I might be OK.