Synchronicity: a meaningful coincidence, or a confluence of circumstances beyond human engineering that are encountered as God’s effort to gain our attention or provide something we need in the moment. The Boorams encourage us to reflect on these slender threads of God’s intervention in the ordinary moments of our day.
We are in the midst of one of the most unique challenges in the history of many of our lives, yet one that is pregnant with possibilities to bring mercy and light. Just last week, our church was out delivering meals to those quarantined by the virus, seeking to meet the physical need of hunger. On our first stop of the day, we met a man named Kyle (not his real name). Keeping our social distance as asked by the medical community, we dropped the box on his porch and knocked on the door. We stepped back as Kyle came out to chat with us for a few minutes. We simply asked 2 Questions: “How are you faring during this season?” And “Is there anything we could pray for you about?”
He told us how he was out of work now; HIV positive for twenty years; how he lost his partner 7 years ago; and how his dog had been diagnosed with cancer just the day before. We simply listened and tried to hold the space. My wife prayed with great compassion and empathy, to the point of tears. Kyle was weeping as well. We reminded him that God sees him. We said our goodbyes and got into our car. Just as we were leaving, Kyle comes running out the door with his hand up. He runs back into his house and returns, quickly crashing through his screen door with his dog in hands, screaming, “Lena died!”
We get out of the car, and as Kyle gives Lena mouth to nose CPR, my wife tenderly strokes the dog with one hand and puts her hand on Kyle. Social distancing is now off the table as we listen to the echoes of Kyle screaming, “She’s dead, please live!!” Soon, those screams become questions: “Why is God punishing me again?”
Kyle asks us to call the vet located about a mile away. Soon we have Kyle scooping up Lena in a blanket and in our backseat headed for the vet. We assure him we won’t leave him. Realizing Kyle has no money to pay for this last act of love for his dog, we let the staff know we will take care of the bill. Weeping, Kyle gets back in our car and begins to question if he did something to hasten Lena’s ending. The question, “Why is God punishing me?” resurfaces.
We wonder with Kyle, could it be that God has seen you this morning? That He was already providing for you? That we showed up at the very moment your dog would pass. That you had no way of transporting or paying for the disposal of your dead dog. That He sent random strangers to be WITH you instead of having you be alone in your grief? Although we dropped Kyle off to a quieter house, maybe we dropped him off with a quieting of the question, “Why is God punishing me?” Maybe in God’s synchronicity, a new question was birthed; “Why would God choose to see me like He did today?”
As the Boorams reminded us through Abraham, something is activated when you get out of your chair and walk toward life. What my wife and I may have seen as an act of meeting hunger, may have just activated life in the midst of loss. In these times where so much of the news tilts us toward death and suffering (and can even paralyze a 6 on the Enneagram, like me, with anxiety), may we pray for the grace to get out of our chair and walk toward life. A meal in Christ’s hands can become more than a meal.
Tim Reist is a Spiritual Director and Trainer for Sustainable Faith. He also leads their School of Contemplative Life which helps people enter into the deeper waters of Contemplation through Spiritual Practices. He is a Certified Advanced Enneagram Trainer through Jerry Wagner, as well as certified in the iEnneagram: Motions of the Soul by Clare Loughridge. He has worked with business, churches, and individuals in Enneagram work. Leading a small public house church as well, Tim loves walking alongside people, both Vocational Ministers and laypeople, to provide soul care. To Tim, there is nothing better than helping people become their best selves in Christ, and to see people be transformed into Christ's likeness for the sake of others. Tim loves to spend time with his wife and daughters, along with a good round of golf, a good book, a good hike, good coffee, and conversation. Tim has been married to Christy for 28 years and has 2 daughters.