Serendipitous moments. Do you ever feel that you are wandering through life? That you move with the ebb and the flow of what happens around you, floating like a buoy pushed by the waves? What is the meaning of this day? Why do I move through it? I remember when I used to have those thoughts in my own life. But I don’t have them anymore.
Yesterday morning I arrived in the city of Pisa. I walked from the train station to the local hostel to see if they might have a bed for me that night. They did; a room on the second floor. My pack and I ascended the stairs, turning to the right to a door marked 205. On entering I found six beds, four of which were empty yet disheveled from the girls that had slept in them the previous night. Another bed was stripped and ready for the sheets that I held in hand. And the final bed was occupied by a woman that lay with head turned to the ceiling. “Ciao” I said as I walked in, “I’m Jess.” She looked surprised that I spoke to her and stated that the other girls in the room had ignored one another, moving around the room as if it were a jail cell.
We easily picked up conversation and I quickly realized that she was an intelligent person with an extremely witty sense of humor. Alek is from Poland, traveling around Italy for over a week on holiday. She is a former lawyer who decided to work in mathematics and philosophy instead. She knows several languages very well. Since it was her second day, I asked her about what to do in the city. She said it was small enough to see quickly but not much else was going on. I decided to explore and she agreed to come along. As we walked we joked and laughed and I was grateful to have an interesting companion. We saw some historical churches, the city square, and sat for some time by the tower. Chatting candidly about life and finding humor over the evolution of selfie sticks.
Later in the evening as we wandered the streets, we came across a poster for an event that happened to be that night. We were not quite sure what it was, but decided to walk to the address listed and check it out. It turned out to be a salsa class that had already begun. It was quite crowded but we slipped into the hot room that smelled of sweat and perfume anyway and found a space on the small dance floor. We giggled as we tried to follow the instructors Italian directions. It was entertaining as we tried to communicate with each partner in broken Italian and they in broken English. At the end of class we met two men in the group and they decided to join us in the city.
The men both currently lived in Pisa but did not know one another. One was originally from Poland but had lived for 6 months now in Pisa. The other had lived abroad but came back to Pisa in order to care for his father. Once again I found myself in a small band of new friends. We sat late into the night on the huge pillar of an old arched bridge over the canal. Stars glowed overhead and a single man played the cello in the square nearby. We laughed together until our sides hurt.
Serendipitous moments; fortunate happenstances. Living each moment open to the next. It is the best we can do. And as I live, I realize more and more that when we look carefully, these happenstances start to create a beautiful design. A design that is not our own doing. Rather it is the same design that created the stars and the ocean’s currents. And also the love that we hold inside of us. A designer that loves each of us enough to create beautiful happenstances in our lives, showing us through them how to love one another. Wishing only for us to love him back. Giving us the answer to “why today?”.
Psalm 139:7-10“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”