Crossing Paths, Chance Encounters

New Year’s Eve, 1989, I went out with good friends. We were on different paths, but so glad those paths had crossed. We decided to meet in Portsmouth for a glass of champagne every year, as many of us that could.

A few weeks later, Deb began training as a physical therapist; Bonnie continued to build her portfolio for graphic design; Jen moved to Boston and an interior design program; Lauren and I both went out of state – for her a corporate position in North Carolina, for me a seminary program in New Jersey. While each of us kept up with our friends who stayed local when we returned home, distance, schedules, and finances didn’t allow us time together.

In New Jersey, I worked at a Mexican restaurant a short walk from my dorm. Late Friday night before Christmas, Lauren walked in. She was driving back to North Carolina, her brother happened to catch a basketball game in town, and they dropped in for dinner on a whim. We got our holiday toast and a happy reunion – my first and best Christmas present that year. An hour later, we were in our cars heading in opposite directions.

Two days later, Lauren’s mother called me. Would I be interested in working as a counselor for teens in a residence program for a semester? She wanted to fill that position before she left hers as the program’s director at the end of the week. Lauren had told her about our chance encounter. We met the next day, I took the position; she left at the end of that week before I began.

I told this story to my friends over a new year’s brunch. All of us agreed that Jung was right: synchronicity is real. But I think it’s more than just expected and important encounters. Sometimes, crossing paths changes the whole journey. A decision to keep in touch, an unplanned late night encounter, a job leaving and a position filled: my life story would be very different without those crossing paths and chance encounters. Change the story, change the blessing. I’m grateful beyond words for the story I’ve lived – and for the crossed paths that brought blessing into its chapters.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Crossing Paths, Chance Encounters”

  1. I love Richard Bach’s: “Can miles truly separate you from friends…If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?”

  2. True. Bach’s “Illusions” and “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” were two of my favorite books when I lived in Portsmouth and worked with Lauren and the others…another reminder of how interconnected all of us are…peace, Johnna

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