The first time I heard the word serendipity was many years ago when I encountered by chance a person who became a lifelong friend. The person assured me that the meeting was serendipitous. In other words, it had to happen. We actually met for a business transaction of translating a document, but became lifelong close friends. Looking up the meaning in the Webster dictionary I found the following explanation: “a phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for” I also like the explanation of how it was coined. Serendipity is a noun, coined in the middle of the 18th century by author Horace Walpole (he took it from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip). It is described as the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. Serendipity played a role a few more times in my life, and it is not as uncommon as some people think. The main reason it is not recognized is that people are unaware when it happens.
It happened again just about a week ago, but it actually started in a strange way. My husband and I are avid newspaper readers, and we receive the Globe and Mail every morning. Rain or shine, around 5 am a paper in a plastic bag is thrown somewhere in the vicinity of our yard. Sometimes it ends up in or under the bushes. Other times we need to search for where it landed. No matter how many times we complain, the service improves only for a few days. We threaten to quit, but we never actually do it, since it has been our morning ritual for more than 50 years to read the paper with our breakfast. My husband goes to the financial pages after looking at the headlines and cartoons, and I go to the “First Person” essay.
On July 31, 2022 the “First Person” essay was written by Penelope Hagan. It was well written and talked about a very patient and compassionate information clerk in a grocery store who smiles, and deals efficiently with all complaints. Penelope realized that she needs to develop this capacity in her spiritual work. Her profession was described as a massage therapist and spiritual healer living in Victoria BC. I was planning to travel to Vancouver, and visit my grandson in Victoria, so I was intrigued to see if I could trace Penelope. Good and trusty Google came to my assistance and found Ms. Hagan’s website. I asked for an appointment during my stay in Vancouver. An answer came soon, with available times. I arranged my visit to Vancouver Island according to the appointment schedule. All that was left to see was whether my intuition was correct. See if the description on the website matched reality. For me, a weekly massage is not merely a luxury, it is essential to my health and wellbeing as much as my near-daily swim.
I arrived on the ferry from Vancouver, and was met by my youngest, 21-year-old grandson, who is studying at the University of Victoria. After spending time at the museum, the oldest China town in Canada, and enjoying the company, I was driven to the address that Penelope supplied for my appointment. There, on a very steep driveway, stood the most elaborately painted car I had ever seen. Since I arrived half an hour early, I decided to take a walk on the path along a creek which I found, almost across the street from the house. My grandson and his girlfriend left me there, and went grocery shopping for our dinner. They were going to pick me up in an hour and a half. The trail was lovely. Apparently, this creek is the only one in the city that flows all year round, and has many miles of bicycle trails following it. I returned to the appointment 5 minutes early, and the place looked deserted! No painted car, no sign of people, and when I knocked at the door I was met by very loud and menacing barking. The same happened when I went to the back door.
The back yard featured a large covered pergola with an inviting net covered high bed. Another covered pergola featured a homemade barbeque and seats around it. There was an old peach tree with bunches of ripe inviting peaches. I decided to sample a peach, and settle down to wait. Then I remembered that we live in modern times, and used my cell phone to find out what was going on. The voice mail asked to leave a message. I also left a text message to say I am here for my appointment, and a few minutes later received an apologetic phone call about a mistaken date registration for the appointment. Needless to say, I was really disappointed. While she offered to come back, I could not wait, since my grandson was already in the driveway. There is a saying in Hebrew “Kol Akeva L’Tova” which means, every delay has a positive aspect to it, and so it was. I had to be out of the house of my hosts at 9am, and my ferry to Vancouver did not leave until 2 pm. We arranged to have the appointment at 9 am and the bonus was that Penelope offered to pick me up to compensate for the mix-up.
Here is where Serendipity comes in. Not only was the massage treatment one of the best I ever had, but the healing touch was wonderful. The two of us connected in body and spirit. We are both creative. Her paintings are on large and small pieces of wood found on the beaches around Victoria. Her hanging mobiles of found objects gave the place a great atmosphere. She and her partner were going sailing after the massage, and their boat was moored close to the ferry. I was offered a ride, and did not have to rely on public transportation. This was fortunate, as I found out later, since the 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00 ferries were cancelled, and there was a mass of people waiting for the 14:00 ferry. I had time to stay and bond with Penelope while sipping a nice cup of coffee, and discussing mutual interests in art and music while she prepared food for their trip and for her teen aged son. Even her dog stopped barking at me. I got to experience a lovely drive in the painted car, and arrived early enough to assure myself a good seat. It was a smooth and good ride back to Vancouver. I am so blessed to have had another serendipitous experience and bond with another human being for hopefully a lifelong friendship.