Hancock smiled, “This is the final ice floe. I have no choice. It’s what’s been handed me.”
“No, it isn’t. Why do you think I’m here?”
“Because you’re so wrapped up in your own sorrow you can barely think straight. Because you can’t sleep and came here to get away, from yourself.”
“Well, that too, perhaps,” smiled Gamache. “But what are the chances we’d meet in the middle of the storm? Had I come ten minutes earlier or later, had we walked ten feet apart, we’d have missed each other. Walked right by without seeing, blinded by the blizzard.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying, what are the chances?”
“Does it matter? It happened. We met.”
(from Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny)
Every now and then we can be reminded of just how precious this one life is that we are living. Each year. Each day. Each hour. Each moment. Every now and then we can be reminded of chance and how it often plays such a life-giving part of our lives. We can be shown lessons, given gifts in the most unexpected ways. Every now and then we can be reminded of grace.
This past week I was heading out of the office to grab some lunch. I’d been on the computer all morning, and I was about done-in with buttons and prompts. I was so weary of looking at a screen. Tunnel vision, and feeling like there was very little to show for it. I walked out into the parking lot and heard this funny sound. It wasn’t sirens, or horns clashing. It was a kind of honking, the kind that drew my eyes up. And there they were ~ 40, 50, 60 geese flying overhead
Everything suddenly stopped. The hustle and bustle, the hurrying and scurrying. Everything stopped. The focus was now fully on creatures moving together, making there way north. Loudly, this choreographed dance played across the sky, passing right over me.
Witnessing this one moment filled my spirit with a refreshing “alleluia!” Somehow this moment invited me back to something bigger, greater than where I had just been a minute bef. With these honking, dancing navigators I was welcomed back into the world that holds my heart and keeps me grounded.
And what are the odds? Really. What are the odds that I would be given the gift of witnessing this one moment for all of us (the geese and me)? I took the elevator, what if I’d taken the stairs; I could have parked on the other side of the building; I could have made one more phone call.
What are the chances?
For as long as I can remember I've marveled at the "V" shape of geese flying. Fluidly moving, always transforming there are lessons we humans can learn. There isn't one leader, leading the pack. There are many leaders. How do they do it? Is there a manual that the flock reads before every journey? Is there a timekeeper who lets the members know when its time to switch? Is there a caller, whose particular honking communicates to the flock: "Switch!" It happens. Organically. Economically. Faithfully. Leadership is shared, individuals move paying attention to the Body, and all this happens without missing a beat. Cooperation and shared purpose at its finest. (So unlike my morning had felt. So much of what is the best of shared work.)
There in the parking lot, I was reminded of grace. Of space. Of place. Of wonder and movement. Of honking so loudly. Of sharing the point of the “V.” Of something truly, truly beautiful.
Working as a Hospice Chaplain, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.