It was June of 2012, and scripture study hadn’t been a priority of mine for many, many months, sad to say.
An upcoming cruise industry conference in New York City, to be followed by visits to family and friends meant that I’d be away from my home and family in Nova Scotia for a little while. Pre-travel anxiety combined with some guilt moved me to try to feel the Spirit through one of favourite books, Jesus and the World of the New Testament by Huntsman, Holzapfel, and Wayment. For some reason, I was drawn to portions of the book that examined the impacts and possible identities of the many Marys portrayed in the New Testament. I was touched by the complexity, mystery and beauty of their stories, and by the name itself. I pondered the name’s many linguistic variations and combinations: Mary, Marie, Maria, Maryam, Miriam, Marianne, Anne-Marie, Maria Sofia, and the like. I even thought about how nice it would be to have another daughter, so I could gift her with one of those names!
Within a couple of days I was off to NYC and the cruise conference. The objective was to create awareness among cruise lines of some of Nova Scotia’s smaller ports. My marketing pitch, repeated ad nauseam, went something like this: “In 1604 French explorer Samuel de Champlain established the oldest continuous European settlement north of Florida, in today’s charming, historic Annapolis Royal. It even predates settlement in Jamestown! This excursion, including visits to two forts, craft shopping and chocolate tasting, is a must for history buffs, especially during fall foliage cruises!” Over and over and over again…
Whew! After the conference, I met up with an old friend. Together we rode the bus to the Manhattan temple. I hadn’t attended this temple before. Being one of the few located in a high rise urban building, it fascinated. Distracted by my excitement over the unique design and décor, I honestly was not paying too much attention when I received the proxy name. So I was surprised when the name given me was one “Marie G______”. What a coincidence, given my earlier reading! Then when I was seated, I was beyond astonished to see her particulars: “born c. 1600, France.” Coincidence piled up upon coincidence; the temple worker who helped me at the veil was named “Joy”. As we continued at the veil, I hoped that Marie took some pleasure in hearing her name pronounced correctly (I speak some French). I was overwhelmed by the idea that I had unknowingly been prepared in different ways to do this work for her.
These “Godwinks,” the name given to such inconceivable coincidences, are blessings I sometimes experience. They confirm God’s interest in the minutiae of our lives, and the touching personal nature of his tender mercies. He knows us each as individuals, and reaches out to us in ways that we (and sometimes we alone) will understand.