Coincidences are spiritual puns. ~G.K. Chesterton
Surely you have heard the expression God works in mysterious ways? Most likely it was spoken by someone who’s now over the age of seventy-five. It was a favorite saying of my mother, Alice. She was a seeker who enjoyed exploring a variety of non-traditional spiritual practices. Alice uttered the phrase when something fortuitously unexpected or seemingly coincidental came her way. She also said it when things suddenly seemed to work out for her family or friends. Today we might call it “synchronicity,” a word coined by Carl Jung in the 1920’s, which has come into vogue again. He defined it as a meaningful coincidence.
Synchronicity has been at play in my work-life recently. The leave from my special education job came to an end as we returned to Boulder in August, after a wonderful sabbatical year spent in Santa Cruz, CA. I’d known since the spring that every position like mine, on the campus where I’d worked for the past ten years, had been eliminated. I decided against taking the required steps to put myself on the list of displaced employees who were seeking work. Had I been on the list, Human Resources would have alerted principals that I was available.
So you see, I wasn’t even looking, hoping instead that by tightening the family purse strings I’d be able to pursue my dream of freelance writing. Can you guess the budgetary changes I was considering? They were along the lines of more eating in and less eating out, cooking from scratch vs. those convenient Whole Foods pick-ups, delaying purchases until we had the cash and convincing myself that living in my yoga clothing was haute couture. In a year’s time, if I weren’t generating income close to my previous job, then I would pursue work that provided a regular paycheck.
Two weeks ago, seemingly from out of nowhere, I received several calls from principals offering me interviews for openings at their schools. I declined and was baffled as to how my name had accidentally been put on the displaced list. I added, “Call HR” to my to-do list. The next morning, before dialing them, I received a call from Steve in HR. Immediately I said, “Hey, calling you is on my list.” I explained that I wasn’t quite sure why or how, but I’d received calls from several area schools. He said he’d put me on the displaced list, thinking perhaps that I didn’t have email access to do so myself. We chatted briefly catching up on the past year, my recent freelance publications and my plans to pursue writing rather than the special education work with school district I’d enjoyed for a decade. After wishing me well he mentioned a part-time opening in a program I had long collaborated with and often thought I’d enjoy working for. It is a small, three-person program providing employment resources to young adults and it seemed to me that the only time there were openings was when someone retired. Well, someone retired in June. I would never have known of the opening, were it not for Steve adding me to the displaced list, and then mentioning it to me as we talked. He gave me the program director’s number and when we spoke I was strongly encouraged to interview.
As I considered this highly autonomous employment opportunity, which could not have been better matched to my skill set, my main concern was whether I’d still have time to write. Then, remembering another of my mother’s old-time adages I knew that not pursuing this would be, “Looking a gift horse in the mouth.” So last Tuesday I did interview and the next day I was hired. Speaking with friends about the new job I’d be starting after Labor Day I heard myself saying things like: Clearly it was meant to be, or it’s irrefutable evidence of Higher Power in my life, or it just fell from the sky into my lap, or it feels like it was handed to me on a silver platter. A friend told me that the Quakers call occurrences like this way opening. More often than not it is only in retrospect that I see that the currents of my life took me in a good, orderly direction. But in this instance the synchronicity of the situation is crystal clear. It is also immediately obvious that this job is the next right thing for me. Now, will the way open as easily for me to find time to continue writing?