“Not everything is a metaphor, Mom…not everything has to mean something,” my sixteen year old daughter says sometimes when I look too deeply at some small thing. And, I get it. Mothers can be annoying, and our quirky habits can be fodder for teasing and the very best eulogies. My ability to find a metaphor in almost any situation will probably be included in mine along with the story about the time I begged a pilot eating his dinner in a Baltimore airport to fly us out of our five-hour delay. (Note to mourners: this did not actually happen, but please smile and nod for the sake of the children when you hear this story at my funeral, because you certainly will.)
But what am I to make of the confluence of coincidence that happened today? Because of the sad occasion of a funeral, I was face to face with the family for which twelve-year old me babysat over thirty years ago. The boys, David and Brian, were then two and four and then three and five, and then they moved several towns away. I received one letter from their mother letting me know they were settled in and she joked that their new babysitter, a male football player, was likely to keep them in line. That was the last I heard. They grew up, and so did I, and the decades passed, as they do.
This past Summer, my dear friend Ellen, whom I’ve known over six years happened to mention her maiden name, and we finally put it together that her eldest brother is the father of the boys I babysat way back then. Today was the funeral of the patriarch of their family, and as we caught up a bit, I told the boys’ lovely mother that the eldest grandchild in my family, and the second eldest, my son, carried the names of her two boys. It was not intentional naming, though her boys were sweet and adorable, but it was something we noted many years later. A weird coincidence.
And what of the fact that their house was on the same street I wrote about just last week after not thinking about it for decades? (https://mylittleepiphanies.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/free/) A hilly street that, in my mind, symbolizes the ups and downs of life, and how we need to trust God through it all? And what of the fact that their house sat at the very bottom of one of those hills? Probably it doesn’t mean anything.
Or maybe it’s meant to remind me that God is intimately involved in these small details of my life, and yours, too. He was with me as I rode my bike on that Summer day when I was eight, when I shepherded those boys at age twelve, and today at age forty-four in a banquet room after a rainy funeral. Maybe it’s meant to remind me that there’s a thread that runs through my life, a tapestry really, and though I won’t see the completed work until the end, I do get hints that God is creating something beautiful in my life, and in yours. Maybe our lives are much bigger than we think, and our loving God has had a front row seat through it all. Maybe like the meaning of the word ‘David’, we are beloved, and perhaps like the meaning of the word ‘Brian’, we are strong and noble. Maybe all we need is a little light to see. And if my friend’s name that she shares with the boys’ mother, Ellen, actually means ‘light’….well, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence… or is it?