“Room 373,” the hotel clerk said. I sighed with relief. I’d been staying at numerous hotels in the past year and trying to remember room numbers had become a nuisance. But 373 instantly registered as the number of the hymn, Beautiful Savior, in the red Psalter Hymnal of the church of my childhood. The hymn had three flats, the most advanced I could ever play when taking piano lessons, so I would play the hymn during practice time.
Do you have coincidences like this that are surprising and fun? I was so happy to know that during our week in Aruba over Christmas I could be stress free when finding my room. And what an appropriate hymn to have in my head on my trips from ocean to pool to hotel room during the week we celebrated Jesus’ birth!
With that coincidence, others came to mind while I was basking in 84 degrees. In 1999, my husband had major surgery in a university hospital in downtown Chicago. I was not familiar with that big place and was apprehensive. At the end of a long day of waiting, a nurse told my daughter and me we could go up to his room, that he’d be leaving recovery room soon. As we stepped off the elevator, there stood a former student of mine: “Dr. Roelofs, I’ve assigned myself to your husband.” How had I doubted that God was watching? I teared up and grabbed him in a hug; I was enormously relieved. He gathered other grads who were working, and we had a very comforting group hug. I didn’t know any of them were working there.
In 2005, when my husband and i decided to move downtown from a suburb, we chose a building on the corner where I’d gotten off the train when I’d commuted downtown for my master’s degree in 1979. At that time, I was thrilled to be a sandbox mom turned graduate student and I’d fallen in love with the boisterous city noises of trains, buses, and taxicabs when I’d come up from the underground train. And now we were going to live there! I’d never dreamed of that possibility, but when we got our mail box key and the number was the same as my 1959 college locker number, I just knew that was a sign that we were supposed to live there.
A few years later, when my daughter and family decided to move to Sioux Falls, she didn’t know anyone and was lamenting that to me on the phone. Her husband worked long days and she told me she was going to join a moms’ group to try to meet people. Back home in Chicago, I prayed someone would be friendly to her at that meeting. I missed her terribly–she’d bought our suburban home when we’d moved downtown. When I saw it was she who was calling about the time that group would be over, I picked up the phone with my heart pounding. What if the meeting had been a bust? She blurted out, “Mom, you have more friends here than I do.” It turned out that two of my former nursing students had moved to Sioux Falls and were attending that same meeting, and they had happily discovered I was their common denominator. A lovely, lovely coincidence. I hadn’t known of any grads moving to that area.
Then, when we moved here to Sioux Falls a year and a half ago, our house number and zip code number turned out to be mixtures of the same numbers of our two parking spaces in our Chicago condo building. Now, what are the odds of that happening? Especially since I hadn’t approved of the house I bought; I’d nixed it from the online picture, but my daughter had added it to the realtor appointments she’d made on the day I flew out to buy a house. And, as she tells it, “My mom had her tape measure out right away to see if her stuff would fit.”
And now another coincidence. But much more than that, really. I just had another event that brought home that God is indeed watching every aspect of my life. My husband had a health problem a few days ago. I called my daughter to tell her where we’d be. She said that one of those former nursing students of mine worked in that facility. And no sooner had the three of us arrived there, and that grad, now a nurse practitioner, was there. Another strange environment for me, and another familiar competent professional to walk us through our experience. I simply thanked God.
Finally, adding some humor: my husband had a procedure that often necessitates a catheter inserted in the groin. His was inserted in the wrist. The day after he came home, he got a call from the facility. “How is your groin?” the female asked. He laughed and said, “My groin is fine.” Pause. “And so is my wrist.”
So Happy New Year. And I hope that you, too, feel the comfort and guidance of God or your higher power in this new year.