I first learned the word serendipity when Marcus Bach gave a lecture about it some thirty-five years ago at a church I was attending. The word caught my attention and I fell in love with it and all that it means.
Serendipity is magical, good fortune, mysterious, the work of angels, and a part of God’s plan. It is finding something good without looking for it!
The word, serendipity, was first coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole based on the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who in this fairy tale are “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” It is considered to be one of the most difficult words to translate. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin is considered to be serendipitous. The same is said about the invention of the microwave oven.
Serendipity in Action
- A serendipitous time for me was when I chose to see the gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Matthew Boente, in Edina, MN. At the same time, my husband was sharing with our friend and jeweler about my health. Our friend said, “There is only one doctor for Karen to see and that is Dr. Boente. My niece is doing her residency under him.” I did see Dr. Boente for a few years before moving to Florida. He recommended my current gynecology-oncologist, Robert Holloway, MD. I attribute my present health to both these physicians.
- I traveled to the northern part of the U.S.A. to do a book reading/signing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, and to seek future opportunities to spread the word about ovarian cancer. The audience consisted mainly of friends, but four people were there because of God’s plan or purpose. One woman read about the event in the newspaper where there was a two-sentence announcement. She was a 14year, Stage III survivor. “When I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I’d see another Christmas.” We hugged each other knowing we are sisters doing what we can to help other women.
- Another woman in the front row sitting alone. Every time I looked in her direction, her eyes were on me and she wore a beautiful smile. She came to get information for her neighbor, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her neighbor did not feel well enough to come, so this young lady gave her neighbor the gifts of kindness, generosity, and her time. God bless them both.
- “Please sign my book for a dear friend who has ovarian cancer. She planned on coming herself but was unable to,” were the words of a smiling elderly lady. When I handed a book to her I noticed a brace on her left wrist. I gently placed my hand on it, and she said, “Oh, my husband has Alzheimer’s, and he….” I wrapped my arms around her and told her that she was an angel so willing to help her friend and yet be there constantly for her husband.
- For the third lady, all I know is that her name was Jane and that she was in Barnes & Noble to buy a book or two to read on her trip to Ireland the next day. While she browsed the shelves, she heard my voice due to the microphone, and being drawn to the subject she stood in the back and listened. She bought the last book. “Here is a picture of me and my mother. She died 4 months ago from ovarian cancer.” We were once two strangers but now became new friends.
There is no doubt in my mind that God led my husband to visit our jeweler that particular day and for each of these women to be at that bookstore that night and at that time. Often, we call it serendipity, which is God at work. Thank you, God.
How many serendipitous events do you recall? Is serendipity just “good luck”? Is it the work of guardian angels? Are they little miracles? I leave it to you to answer in your own way.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Your comments are welcome and much appreciated.