Sunday night my husband and I were visiting with old friends. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, as it always does with this particular group. The topic of college football came up for a very short time, and I had a fleeting thought…
‘A part of me wishes I’d gone to a bigger school – one big enough to have teams with televised games – so that as an alum, I could be a fan.’
It’s a thought I’ve had before. Not something I dwell on. I truly loved my college and my educational experience. Those were some of the very best, most formative years of my life. But still…
I almost said this thought aloud, but at the last second, I felt held back.
“No,” said the whisper, so quickly I barely perceived it.
‘But there aren’t many of us around,’ said my internal voice.
Again, quick as a flash, “It’s your story.”
I’ve heard this whispered refrain before – a reminder that there is nothing wrong with where I’ve come from, and that my choices and the lessons I have learned from them make me who I am today.
But still, don’t we all have these silly, niggling, petty wishes that mean nothing in the grand scheme of our lives? Or even on the small scale? I’m not even a sports fan, for crying out loud! I know almost nothing about football or basketball; I’m drawn to the camaraderie. I’d just like to wear a sweatshirt for a place people have heard of – a name I don’t have to explain.
All of this brings me to today, and the play date I’d arranged for my youngest son and one of his kindergarten classmates, a boy I’ll call Jack. We’d seen Jack and his parents at Mass for years. Years. And the boys had sized one another up from the time they were toddlers. It was nice to see they had become friends in school.
I got to talking with Jack’s parents when I dropped my son off at their house. Our prior exchanges had been very pleasant. They seemed like a peaceful family.
We had already established that the two ‘dads’ had both grown up in Philadelphia. Jack’s dad’s cousin had been in my husband’s high school class. Pretty nifty. We quickly discovered the two dads knew some other people in common because of work in DC. Also cool. And we knew Jack’s parents had met in college. So, today, at a natural point in playing “getting to know you,” I asked,
“Where did you guys go to school?”
“I went there!!”
He had answered like a question, of course, assuming I wouldn’t know the place. And I had responded in a tone like, ‘What?!?? Impossible!?!! That’s MY school,’ as if no one else in the universe had gone there. Because truly, that’s how it feels sometimes when your college has only 2,000 students.
We all stared at one another in bewildered amazement. We got right to the details. We’d graduated two years apart, and I was in France when they were freshmen. Our time on campus only overlapped one year. And – they were athletes. I was not. In a tiny school, we had missed one another. But still. Incredible.
And now our young sons are friends. They brought us together. Ha! More smiles.
Most people look at this situation and think, “Oh, what a nice coincidence.” But I don’t believe in coincidences any more. I used to, until I started to view my life with less cynicism, and more wonder. I opened myself up to the possibility that I was not the One in control. The possibility that there is more – more than I can see – going on behind the scenes of my every day. And when I leave myself open, when I view life through the eyes of faith, dazzling days are just handpicked, or rather – Hand-made, and handed right to me.
Dickinson College. Indeed, it is part of my story. A thread, a small school, in the fabric of my life. And He who creates, sees, hears, and notices EVERYTHING, even the petty thoughts of my mind, decided to make my day by showing me that He can weave together even the tiniest of threads, the ones long gone from my daily activities, to make something new.
Photo from www.flickriver.com