Saturday, 28 May 2016

Synchronicity

Whenever we find ourselves at another threshold of life, at one of those transitional moments when we must make a decision, I wonder if we find ourselves desperately searching weighing up all the choices with pure reason, discerning every possibility or do we “feel” our way through it, do we instead allow our gut to discover a sense of rightness. By what are we guided? Do we imagine that the universe, or a divine presence, has guidance to offer us, that we are being called down one path that we are the part of destiny in an ever unfolding universe? Or do we instead believe that we are all quite on our own in an indifferent universe, and that all things in this life unfold by some combination of human action and random chance?

I wonder what we believe. I wonder what you who read this "blogspot" believe...

Do we simply make our own meaning as we journey along making our own self sufficient and self-reliant choices with the consequences that accompany them? Or do we feel led or at least lured on in some way? Not passively of course, but as a part of the unfolding. An understanding that recognises a purpose in our lives within the larger unfolding and with a sense of communication with the Divine reality.

I wonder how we see this? Do we feel alone pushed and pulled by the randomness, just reacting or responding, while accepting responsibility; or do we feel a part of a greater un-folding and guided along.

Personally I have experienced both feelings in my life. I have felt utterly alone and blown about by randomness at stages of my life. Passages when I have longed for, prayed for, begged for guidance from God or from my own deeper wisdom, and was met by deafening silence and a deep sense of being alone with impossible decisions to make. At others I have experienced synchronicities and compelling intuitions that have led to me to believe in an intelligent, responsive and mysterious reality. Times when I have felt drawn along by a seeming great energy in a direction that felt right in every way, an undeniable lure or intuition calling me to do a particular thing. Moments of no doubt when life just opened up in front of me. This did not lead to an abdication of responsibility by the way, quite the opposite in reality. If truth be told it gave me a greater sense of responsibility and of course belonging

Today I see myself, and all creative life, as part the great co-creation. Today I feel at ease with the responsibility for the part I play in life. For me everything matters. Every thought, every feeling, every word and every deed. Everything we do and everything we do not do, matters.

I have felt this powerfully during my ministry amongst the good folk of Altrincham and Urmston. I remember my good friend Derek turning to me, almost randomly just weeks before my ministry training began as we were attending an AA meeting in the school room at the chapel in Altrincham just saying to me, without explanation, that I would be minister here. He then just carried on going on with himself about something else. we spoke about this a couple of years ago and he simply said that the feeling just came to him that day as we walked and talked together.

Now some folk call these moments of intuition synchronicity. Something that I and the congregations I serve have a growing awareness of. So many meaningful coincidences have come to pass these last six or more years.

I have had some powerful personal experiences of synchronicity in recent weeks. I will recount a couple of recent meaningful encounters to illustrate.

I recently began receiving massage therapy. It is benefiting me greatly and I have developed a deeps sense of intuitive connection with my therapist. This is something we have both acknowledge.

Now a few weeks ago I was walking to the supermarket when I had a strong sense of her come into my being. I visualised seeing her but with someone, her boyfriend, in the supermarket and as I approached this sense grew stronger. Well guess what as I waked around the supermarket there she was and with her boyfriend. We said hello and chatted for a few moments. I though felt a little uncomfortable and kind of wanted to get away quickly. What made me feel this way was that I knew him; I knew him from my past many years ago. What was just as peculiar was that in recent weeks I had passed him several times in the street. He has lived in Altrincham for many years and yet I had only begun to notice him in recent weeks. Now when I went for the next massage therapy session we talked about the encounter. I explained that I had sensed I would see her and that she would be with someone and told her that I knew her boyfriend many years ago. I called him by his full name, which apparently no one else does. Now the reason that I knew him was that he used to go out with an very old friend of mine, someone who was an important part of my recovery journey many years ago. Now I didn’t mention my old friend by name, just that we had mutual friends. Well the next time that we met guess what had happened. Both my therapist and her boyfriend bumped into my old friend for the first time in years as they were out and about and they then realised how I knew him and what I had been talking about.

Now there was no more mention of this for a few weeks. As the weeks went by this old friend was floating about in my consciousness. Well last week I took a member of the congregation to visit his mother in St Ann’s hospice and as I was driving there I felt powerfully this sense of my old friend who I had not seen for many years. We went to the hospice and as we were leaving, walking toward the entrance, from the other wing walked a figure I recognised and who looked at me and then came rushing forward. She said “I nearly didn’t recognise you as you look so different, you look so well”. We spoke for a few moments. She told me that she was looking to get married and had been to a wedding at the Unitarian chapel in Macclesfield where I had been student minister. I told her I had this strong sense I would see her that day and she said “oh well it must be fate.” We exchanged details and agreed to meet up to discuss plans for a wedding, as she would love me to conduct the ceremony.

Now what does this all mean? Was it merely coincidence? Was something greater at play? Was it fate? Was it meant to be? For me it was a beautiful example of synchronicity. We will see what grows from it.

According to Phil Cousineau "Synchronicity is an inexplicable and profoundly meaningful coincidence that stirs the soul and offers a glimpse of one's destiny."

Most folk talk of experiencing moments of synchronicity. The anticipation of a phone call from a person just seconds before it rings; the chance meeting with someone from the past who has the answer we have been looking for; that feeling of deep connection with someone when something happens to them although they are physically miles apart, we feel their pain and or joy deeply. It is these feelings, if we pay attention to them, that will call us to engage with life in deeper more meaningful ways. If we do more meaning and intuitive connection emerges.

Mothers often talk about a connection with their children of feeling their pain, even when they are not physically in their company. I’ve heard similar experiences recounted by siblings especially twins. Can these occurrences be rationally explained, it would appear not and yet so many of us recount them.

I have felt this too. It happened to me the moment that Ethan, my friend Claire’s son died. I was sat on the bus travelling to work when suddenly I felt violently sick in my stomach. I had never felt a sensation like it before or since. I discovered sometime later this was the exact moment that the breathing apparatus in the hospital was turned off and Ethan was declared dead. Now you could just say that this was coincidence, but I believe it was due to the connection between us. It is not something I thought much about at the time, but as I have reflected upon it since it has made more sense. Of course many would say I was just feeling ill. My answer to that would be, this was not merely travel sickness it was far more violent. I had a very special connection with Ethan, throughout the few years that he lived. He taught me how to experience the Love I know as God.

The psychologist Carl Jung coined the phrase synchronicity in an attempt to explain what he called "meaningful coincidences ", that occur due to seemingly unrelated events. His concept of synchronicity came about through the many baffling coincidences his patients shared with him in his practice, especially as he began to realize that the occurrences went beyond what could be attributed to mere chance. His interest has also been attributed to a series conversations, over many years, that he had with Albert Einstein.

One example of synchronicity that really intrigued Carl Jung occurred with a patient recounting her dream of a golden scarab beetle. A young woman who Jung had been treating told him of a dream in which she had been given a golden scarab. He was sitting with his back to a closed window while she told him about the dream. Suddenly he heard a gentle tapping and turned to see a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from outside. Jung opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. The insect closely resembled a golden scarab. It was the one closest related to such a creature in their part of the world. Normally, such insects would not come into a dark room, but at the same moment the patient mentioned the beetle she had been given in her dream, this beetle appeared at Jung’s window. He was quite astonished at the coincidental timing and admitted that nothing like it ever happened to him before or since. This was also a breakthrough moment for the patient who had become bogged down in his attempts to treat her.



Synchronicity suggests that events we experience as human beings are more than mere chance, that there is more going on; that we humans and all of life are connected and at a deeper level than would outwardly appear. Suggesting that who we are, what we think, feel, imagine, react to, are interrelated with the things going on around us in our environment; that at times who and what we are, how we appear to be to others and how, who, and what they are and how they appear to us converge together.

Could this be true?

Well maybe, maybe not...It is for each of us to decide...

All this brought to mind a poem I have recently come across, which to my mind ponders these very questions...The poem is "Love at First Sight" by Wislawa Szymborska

"Love at First Sight" by Wislawa Szymborska

They're both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

Since they'd never met before, they're sure
that there'd been nothing between them.
But what's the word from the streets,
staircases, hallways —
perhaps they've passed by each other a
million times?

I want to ask them
if they don't remember —
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a "sorry" muttered in a crowd?
a curt "wrong number" caught in the receiver? —
but I know the answer.
No, they don't remember.
They'd be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.

Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.

There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn't read them yet.
Perhaps, three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood's thicket?

There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
beforehand.
Suitcases, checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.

Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.


“Love at first sight” describes two lovers engaged in a display of public affection. I get the impression that the author is convinced that some guiding force is at work in their interaction. What begins as “Chance”, then becomes “Destiny” which “pushed them close, drove them apart”. The poems suggests that these lives were scripted long ago in a “book of events”, which cannot be altered, try as we might. The poem suggests that the lovers have passed by one another many times before. That there were signs along the way and that one day this encounter would happen, but it was more than mere chance, something else was at work offering itself to both of them. It just took this moment for it to happen.

In many ways this is how I see life these days. So many possibilities are going on all around us. Some good, others not so good. So many joys, tragedies, triumphs, failures, frustrations, crises, endless possibilities good and bad. Life offers itself to us, but so often we close ourselves off from it. One thing I have noticed is that as I have allowed life itself to guide me I have become more open, and the more open I have become to life itself, the more connected I felt, the more aware I have become of experiencing meaning and making meaning filled decisions. As I have done so I experienced a greater sense of belonging to myself, those people I share my life with and this world in which we all live and breathe and share our being.

But that’s just me and that’s just where I stand today. I have not always felt this way.

What about you? You who read this "blogspot" What is true to you? Maybe that’s something to ponder...

Think about your own experience of coincidence and ask yourself has this helped you find meaning in life?

Perhaps ask yourselves where do you find meaning in life? And what can you do with this meaning, what can it lead you to do in order to give yourselves more fully to life.

I’m going to end this little chip of  a "blogspot" with the following meditation “We are called” by Natalie Fenimore

We are called.
Called by the wind, the rushing water, the fireflies, the summer sun.

Called by the sidewalk, the playground, the laughing children, the streetlights.
Called by our appetites and gifts – our needs and challenges.

Called by the bottle, the needle, the powder, the pill, the game, the bet, the need, the want, the pain, the cure, the love, the hope, the dream.

Called by the Spirit of Love and Hope, and visions of God’s purpose for our lives.
We are called.

What do we choose? How do we answer?


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