Stepping into the Stream of Connection
The other day my son called to report a bit of good news. After celebrating this good development in his life, we went on to talk about an upcoming event in my life that I was very excited about. My husband and I were going to a concert featuring two 1960s musical icons, and in the course of our conversation about that, my son mentioned that he had recently been enjoying the old Tommy James and the Shondells song, Crimson and Clover. I immediately sang a few bars of it, we laughed, and, after a bit more chatting, we hung up. Then, still thinking about music, I turned on my iTunes playlist which is set to play in random order. The very first number that came up was Crimson and Clover, which happens to be buried somewhere in the middle of a 432-song playlist. Now I’m no statistician, but what are the odds that this, out of all 432 songs, would be the one to play? (I know; the odds are precisely 1 in 432!) The point is that such a striking coincidence really got my attention. I recognized it as synchronicity, and in its wake I felt uplifted, somehow buoyed by a sense of Spirit’s presence.
The term synchronicity, most simply defined as “meaningful coincidence,” was coined by Carl Jung to describe events that have no direct causal relationship, yet still seem connected in a significant way. That song popping up just when it did, or the long absent friend calling
right when we had been thinking of her, or spotting relevant words on a license plate just as we are contemplating a problematic situation – these are but a few examples of meaningful coincidences that can give us the sense that there is a deeper flow beneath the surface of our existence. And synchronicity’s lack of direct, cause-and-effect connection is the very thing that pulls us into the mystery. We intuit that something personally important has happened – even if we don’t understand exactly what.
Just the day before the synchronicity involving the song, I had been talking with a client about her synchronistic experiences and how they are the hallmark of connection with Something More. We discussed the way communication with God becomes less direct and straightforward, more oblique, as our concept of Him/Her/It matures. I shared how, in my teens, I could prayerfully ask a question, close my eyes, open my Bible at random, and find remarkably apt responses in the scripture verses that happened to fall under my finger. Some of those answers were so specific to the kind of help I’d asked for that even today it is hard to dismiss them as mere chance. I suppose that was a kind of simplistic synchronicity-upon-request, which I have come to see as an accommodation to my youth. Because as I got older, I came up empty every time I turned to this method of guidance-seeking. It took a while to realize that as this childhood God’s voice grew silent, a much larger, more mysterious God was drawing me into a sense of divine Presence that leaves me to find my own answers.
The temptation, when we experience synchronicity, is to ask What does it mean? In regard to my recent experience, the question might be, “why the song Crimson and Clover?” It has never been a favorite of mine; it’s only in the playlist because it was part of a compilation CD I’d bought long ago. My thoughts went to an article I’d read within the last week about a woman who has a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. Maybe it was about learning to really look the way she described doing whenever she is in a field of clover. Or maybe there is some hidden meaning in the lyrics that I’d never considered before. A quick web search yielded as many speculations as there were speculators. None of it resonated with me very much, except possibly the comment that the song was a deliberate attempt on the part of the band to change their direction and their sound. Maybe this had been a nudge suggesting I explore new directions? But even that “message” felt like quite a stretch.
In the end, the interpretation of a synchronistic experience is often no more and no less than what we read into it, a sort of psycho-spiritual Rorschach test. It can be productive to plumb
its meaning, if only because it paces us through the issues and meanings that dominate our experience at the moment. But for me, the real significance of this recent synchronicity (and most others that I have experienced) is not to be found in trying to interpret it, as if it were a coded message. Rather, the takeaway is reassurance that the Universe is listening in, so to speak. Like what happens in those sci-fi movies where the message we earthlings send out into space is sent back to us: we may not understand who or what we are communicating with, but we know that we have stepped into a stream of connection and communion with that mysterious Something More.
In the experience that spurred these reflections, my son and I were connecting with one another in a mutual spirit of happy expectation concerning upcoming events in our lives. In so doing, it was as if I stepped into a deeper current, one that reminded me that the Universe is alive with connections and possibilities, and that it is ready to get my attention using the mundane stuff of my daily life. Sometimes that is enough.