I had a strange experience yesterday. I am not sure what, if anything, to make of it. It feels significant somehow.
I was at the UU Fellowship yesterday morning. Before the service, I lit some candles, as I do on most Sundays, setting intentions for the well-being of my loved ones. A friend (Anne) sat beside me and casually mentioned that it is always interesting to read the little plaques on the backs of the chairs in the row in front of us. The plaques typically commemorate a bygone supporter of the Fellowship.
So, for the first time I paid attention to the plaque. It mentioned a husband-wife duo with the last name of Wiser. Since I was not familiar with the couple, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Following the service, another friend (Jane) came by and sat next to me. After exchanging a few pleasantries, she asked if I knew the Wisers. “No,” I said. “Why do you ask?” Turns out the Wisers went to India in the 1930s and spent a few years working in a remote village. Jane could not recall whether they went to India as missionaries or as teachers. What she recalled is that they lived in a village that had no electricity or running water. “Then they went back again in the 1960s and stayed with one of the families that they had come to know 30 years earlier.”
Why did Anne mention the plaques that day? Why did I read the name “Wisers”? Why did Jane mention the same couple barely an hour later?
The rational scientific side of me rejects the tendency to see anything more than a random coincidence in these random events. But, the side of me that is more agnostic rather than atheist, doesn’t want to let it go.
I am agnostic in the sense that I don’t know for sure that such things don’t happen. I am not an atheist in the sense of firmly rejecting the possibility of any meaning behind such coincidences.
The change in my thinking and temperament occurred over the course of writing and researching the biography of Dr. Anandi-bai Joshee. My research uncovered the fact that just such a coincidence was what inspired an American woman to write to an Indian girl-woman in far-off India and offer help as well as encouragement.
Have you had any such interesting, thought-provoking, and wild experiences?!