another serendipity in my life
Multiple choice question: How do you get rid of a giant centipede? A. step on it, B. pick it up with long BBQ tongs; C. throw dirty clothes on it or D. move out. That’s in the culture quiz in Cultureshock! Hawai’i: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette.
Why am I reading such a book? The short answer is another serendipity in my life. In a letter to a friend in 1754, Horace Walpole described an unexpected discovery he had found and referred to a Persian folk tale called the Three Princes of Serendip. Thus the word was coined to mean a fortunate happenstance, or pleasant surprise. So it was that I got an email 10 days ago asking if I would be interested in doing a long-term supply at St. Michael and All Angels in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii. I’ve never been there and am slowly learning that it’s more than just our 50th state. The interim Rector suggested that I read Cultureshock! Hawai’i.
In this week before the Feast of Pentecost when the church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, I’m wondering if serendipities are just the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit as expressed in fire and wind, water and wine, wisdom and a dove. Asking whether or not something is the work of the Holy Spirit is like asking where the wind comes from and where it goes? Jesus told us that we don’t know we can only tell where it’s been by the fruit it leaves behind. The classic seven gifts are derived from the Book of Isaiah. They are wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (wonder). I’m thinking we should throw in serendipity as an eighth gift of the Holy Spirit. For serendipities are more than just happenstance. It takes an eye to see, and an openness to all of God’s creation and each other. My call to Hawaii has a long history behind it and many serendipitous moments and I’m sure there will be more.
What serendipities have the markings of the Holy Spirit in your life? Where have new insights, new adventures, healing, hope, forgiveness, wonder and wisdom moved through your life? As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, may we continue to have our lives transformed by this windy, fiery Spirit who makes all things new.
(The Rev.) Larry Handwerk
Associate for Worship and Adult Formation