There is a standing feud between my husband and myself as to what constitutes coincidence, happenstance, or something so unlikely that it must be divine intervention.
Once, while living in Shanghai, China, we took a trip to Guilin, China (see photo above). There were about 5 couples with us on our trip. Part of the trip consists of a boat ride down the Liu river which is in a very obscure part of China. When I say boat, think of a small wooden raft with a canopy. The boats probably only seat 10 people. Seated on our raft-like vessel was an older woman. She was on the opposite side of the boat and was seated by herself. My husband, being the kind gentleman he is, decided to go over and speak with her so she wouldn't feel alone. I nodded and said, "Sure, go ahead. That is a nice thing to do."
After a good 15 minutes, I began to wonder what the two of them had in common to talk about for so long, so I ventured over to join in the conversation.
At this point, my husband looked at me with incredulity. I immediately asked him what was the matter?
He replied with a look of near disbelief on his face, "You just won't believe what I am about to tell you. This lady here, that I have been talking to, is the mother-in-law of a childhood friend of mine from Sydney, Australia."
We were stunned. Here we were in a largely remote part of China, on rafts, floating down the Liu river and my husband meets someone who is directly related to a friend of his from childhood. Not just any friend, either. His friend was the son of the, then, Prime Minister of Australia. (How they became friends is fodder for another blog post. Good story, I promise!)
What my husband and I couldn't get over were the odds of this encounter? What were the chances of meeting anyone he or I would know in such a location? We put it down to coincidence--a once in a lifetime coincidence.
NOT TRUE! I am here to report that I have just had another, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
As those of you who read my blog know, I participate in Joyce's "Wednesday Hodgepodge" every Wednesday on my blog. I came across Joyce's blog about six months ago when I was doing some blog hopping one day. I don't recall whether she commented on a blog I follow or whether I found her while searching for expat blogs, but I found her and instantly knew that we were kindred spirits. We both had an empty nest, had spent time following our husbands abroad for their work, loved to blog, were believers, and had repatriated back to the U.S. (she more recently than I have).
I loved her style of writing and enjoyed reading about her first year back in the U.S. after having lived in the UK.
I am second from left, P.W. to my right, and our mutual acquaintance, A.M. on the far right.)
Last week, I had the honor of attending the International Women's Club of Munich Christmas Tea, sponsored by members from the UK. I met a friend, PW who was also attendingm on the S-8 train that morning around 10:30 am. PW introduced me to her friend, A.M.who was accompanying her. On our way to the Christmas Tea we began chatting about our December plans when A.M. shared with us that she had just hosted a group of women from various cities in her home this week. They had all once been friends during their expat years in the U.K. She took the girls to visit the Chriskindle markets in Strasbourg, Nuremberg, and Munich while they were here visiting in Germany.
Now, I knew it was a stretch, and I almost didn't ask, but I said, "One of those ladies didn't happen to be named Joyce, by any chance, did she?"
"Why, yes!" she giggled. "How do you know Joyce?" she asked.
I couldn't believe it. Again, what are the chances?
Joyce now lives in the U.S. I only know her from reading her blog. Can anyone tell me the odds of this coincidnce? It must be astronomical!!
Call it what you may, but I refuse to believe it is mere coincidence.
I prefer to believe it is divine intervention. I just haven't figured out why.
So, Joyce, if you are reading this, I have already contacted you via email to tell you the story you won't believe. I am glad to have made A.M.'s acquaintance and look forward to getting to know her better. Hopefully, I will see her at many more IWCM functions.
I heard your connection to Heathrow on the most inclement of days put you behind schedule, but one day, should you ever return to Munich, I hope I can meet you properly!
Meanwhile, I will continue to believe that God, not happenstance, intervened today and will feel blessed.