More From P. A. Mathew

August 14, 2019 by Palakunnathu A. Mathew (Kerala, India)
P. A. Mathew and his family

One of my favorite words in the English language is serendipity. It means discovering a good thing by accident. When I look back at my life, I see that the friends I have today, the incidents that are etched in my memory, and the memorable occasions are not a result of my meticulous planning and disciplined work. Most of these things came to be through serendipity.

My continuing journey with God is also serendipitous. God has surprised me innumerable times. Often my meticulous planning was simply a flowchart to be thrown into the dustbin because things didn't happen according to my plan. I have felt frustrated by that many times. When we cannot control the world around us, it can be easy to feel disappointed and dejected.

But in my life, God has worked in wonderful ways which can be called serendipitous, and I have since discovered two of the most valuable things in my life. One is my partner for life, who is also the mother of my two children, aged 14 and 15. The other is teaching, which has been my vocation for the last 16 years. I discovered both through serendipity. My never-ending search for these things earlier in life was a fruitless exercise, and when I discovered them both—I knew that best was reserved for me.

I live in the southern part of India called Kerala, where rains are an accepted part of life. We know that monsoon rains will come on June 1st every year, thanks to the wind that travels across the Arabian Sea. These rains bring us respite from the hot summer that would otherwise dry up our rivers, lakes, and wells. Rains after the initial thunder storms often play hide-and-seek with us. Sometimes we can predict the weather by looking at the dark clouds and prepare for it by carrying an umbrella or a raincoat. Other times it comes unannounced, like the day that I mentioned in the meditation.

Much like I did in my meditation, when we face difficulties, problems, and issues in life, we look for cover. Maybe the familiar places where we often take cover are far from us, but we can always find somewhere to give us temporary relief. Often it is during these times that we discover parts of ourselves that we never knew existed, and maybe we will find a dear friend in the process. Any moment can create a memory that lasts for a lifetime.

My meeting with the elderly man mentioned in the meditation was a discovery by accident, and I never saw him before or after that day. But he opened a thought for me about my hometown that is not in any history books. The moral of the story is simple—God works in serendipitous ways. The beauty in life is discovering that truth and reflecting and acting on it daily.

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