Say you hear about a job you’re not interested in—but your friend insists you interview. “Trust me,” she says. Which is how you end up talking to a woman who is bright, funny, bracing. You feel a shift: “I want this job,” you think. “I belong here.” There follows a gradual unfolding: the boss who becomes a mentor, the coworkers who become friends, the work you didn’t know you’d love. Only years later do you see how far one person’s benevolent influence rippled, growing from small rings to the rolling waves still beyond your sight.
Life sends us serendipities; it drops little miracles into our laps. You hear your college sweetheart’s favorite song, turn the corner and run into him. You lock your keys in your car at the gas station and see your roommate at the next pump. That’s grace, but there is another kind, too—a subtler kind that heralds the beginning of something, or simply brings unexpected delight. That bad restaurant? The guy in line for the bathroom will turn out to be the man you marry. That vending machine? It’s going to give you an extra Kit Kat.
Who offers these gifts? God, dumb luck, a metaphysical entity that occasionally rigs a vending machine? Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: The world is marvelously mysterious. Grace shows up now and again to remind us of this.
It is a blessing that can’t be earned, only received. You’d get nothing done if you went around watching for miracles all the time. But you’d do well to stay alert enough to see them out of the corner of your eye. —Michelle Wildgen