God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
By Mary Regina Morrell
"There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from." Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Erin works in a bank, her desk situated directly in front of a floor to ceiling glass window. Each day, around the same time, an elderly gentleman passes on his daily walk. From the first day Erin smiled at the spry senior, a friendship, of sorts, was formed. Now their exchange of smiles and waves has become routine. Nothing out of the ordinary - or so Erin thought.
One day last week, Erin looked up from her desk to see her friend standing in front of her. This unexpected personal encounter startled her, but she smiled up at him in spite of it. For the first time, she heard his name, "Ben."
Ben handed her a small gift bag and explained that he wanted her to have something for Christmas because her daily smile and wave made him feel valued, a feeling that was often missing in the life of an aging man living all alone.
They spoke for a few minutes and, when he left, Erin turned the bag around to find the name of the company printed on the front, "Donna and Company."
Donna was her mother's name.
It was the first of many "coincidences."
Inside the bag was a small box of candy and a book. As Erin lifted the book out of the bag, a piece of paper fell to her desk. On one side was a handwritten note, a brief life history of her elderly friend, who, he explained, had grown up as blonde-haired, blue-eyed orphan in a large Italian family. "Didn't always feel like a fit," he admitted in his note, but the memories of warm and wonderful Christmases, filled with the food for which Italian families are known, were a comfort during these holidays alone.
Erin, also blonde-haired and blue-eyed, shared similar memories of a large Italian family and the sights, sounds and aromas of an Italian Christmas. Her sense of connection and coincidence was growing.
On the back of the paper was a copy of an old newspaper clipping about a young man, "a square toe kicker," who had been a walk-on at try-outs for a famous football team. In college, he was known for his dead-on accuracy but his small stature had kept him from making the professional team.
Erin was near tears now. Not only was she aware of how much this loss, this "not being chosen," had meant in the life of her friend, but she realized that she could do something to make this Christmas a very special one for Ben.
You see, her brother was closely affiliated with the very same team for which Ben had once tried out. Together, she and her brother planned something very special for Ben, including giving him something that had been a long time in coming -- the official team shirt with his name written across the back.
Surely, this will be a Christmas Ben will add to his memories as being warm and wonderful, instead of cold and lonely.
One morning, soon after the gift-giving episode in the bank, Ben walked past Erin's window and threw his arms straight up in a gesture she didn't recognize. Then, for the next few days, he didn't come by and Erin became concerned.
He had left her his phone number in the little book so she called him. Much to her relief, Ben answered the phone and admitted he had decided not to come by for awhile because he was afraid she would think him a stalker.
After they had a good laugh about that, Erin asked Ben what the arms up gesture meant.
With a smile in his voice he explained, "It meant that you are a touchdown for me!"
Christian author Phil Ware explains that early Christians viewed time in two ways, chronologically or chronos, or through strategic moments when "different layers of life and reality converge" providing great opportunity, or kairos.
About coincidences, he writes, "We shouldn't be surprised when the Lord puts us in the right place, at the right time, to be a blessing to others. Let's just make sure we're awake to the possibilities of his grace being used in us when it is most needed. God not only works in history, but he also accomplishes salvation through his 'everyday' people at just the right time. He works in us and through us in 'God-incidences.'"
For Ben, the gift of this Christmas season will be found in the grace of kairos moments.
May it be our gift as well.
Diocese of Metuchen
http://www.diometuchen.org NJ, US
Mary Regina Morrell - Associate Director, Office of Religious Educationp, 732 562.1990
coincidences, Christmas, blessing, time
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