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Author Topic: Look Closely and You Will See Him  (Read 18016 times)
DavidMW
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« on: April 14, 2007, 03:26:20 PM »

Hello to all. Until last year, I was not involved in any religion for most of my adult life. My return to God was the result of some unusual and remarkable events that took place in my life in 2005-06. My testimony is a chronology of those events. They turned a skeptic (me) into a believer in divine intervention. It’s an unusual topic for a spiritual story, and as a result, it may read a bit like fiction. It is not.

Peace



Look Closely and You Will See Him
by David Wilkins

INTRODUCTION

It has been said that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. I first heard that statement around the time of my father’s death in May 2005. The year that followed is the subject of this story.

During that time, I discovered the meaning behind this thought and formed my own opinion: it isn’t true. At least it wasn’t for me. I’ve never had a need for such weighty statements, but I also never had a year like the one written about here. During that time, I became an accidental and informal researcher of a unique mystery that left me believing with near certainty in the existence of God.

While I have not been faithful to a religion during my adult life, I have always believed that God exists, but, like many people, I’ve also held some unexpressed doubt. Regarding His presence on earth, I considered myself a skeptic. I put little faith in claims of supernatural events, miracles, or other experiences that many people attribute to a Higher Power. I’ve always assumed that unexplained events have some rational explanation—and as a former amateur magician, I’m aware that most do.

Prior to the events of last year, I might have said all do. I now have a different opinion. And while many people come to believe in divine intervention internally—or spiritually—my belief began with a series of remarkable, and more than circumstantial, evidences of a hidden hand at work in the world around me.

I’m tempted to say it was an odd year, but that would tell only half the story. It’s been even as well. Most of all, it’s been improbable, highly improbable.

April 2, 2005

My introduction to the subject of coincidence began on April 2, 2005. The date itself went down in history as the day of the passing of Pope John Paul II. On a personal level, I received news that hit closer to home. I learned my father was very sick.

For several weeks, he’d been experiencing symptoms of illness. He finally addressed the family’s concerns and visited the hospital, located just one block from his home. His ongoing symptoms, and the tests performed that day, indicated he most likely had advanced lung cancer.

Although the news was grim, we did not admit him to the hospital that rainy day. For the next ten days, my mother and I discussed treatment options while we cared for Dad in the home in which I grew up.

With medication, Dad rested as comfortably as could be expected, but it was obvious he needed hospital care. I fully expected he would soon get it, but one night a sudden change in his condition surprised me. His color turned poor and he became weaker than he had been. Suddenly, something I hadn’t considered seemed possible: Dad might not make it through the night. The idea that he might die before receiving any treatment for his illness really bothered me. “He should have some chance to beat it,” I thought. I wasn’t ready to let him go.

At weddings, the officiate often says, “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.” I thought of that when I considered the circumstances and realized I needed to seek help elsewhere. Despite my limited relationship with God, I appealed to Him for some extra time for my father. Obviously, no one knows for sure if God hears prayers; we only assume He does. I didn’t want to take any chances at a time like that. Although I was not accustomed to doing so, I felt it best to speak to Him aloud. I had my say and felt better for it.

Fortunately, Dad made it through the night. The next day his condition improved. Shortly thereafter, on April 13, we admitted him to a different hospital, St. Mary’s in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. His regular family doctor was on staff there, and it seemed a good choice both for quality of care and for Dad’s comfort. We knew a familiar face would be welcome during this difficult time. 

My brief talk with God did not mark the start of a new spiritual awareness, but the next day I again stepped out of character, this time by making what was, for me, an unusual purchase. Some time back, a friend of mine, a very spiritual person, had shared a phrase from Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am…”

Despite my limited attention to spiritual issues, I’d always appreciated the simplicity of this message. While searching the Internet, I found a bronze wall plaque engraved with this inscription and placed an order for two of them. To this day, I'm not sure why I bought them. It was not in my nature to buy spiritual or inspirational items of any kind, so, like my appeal to God, this was another first. 
 
The plaques soon arrived, and within days I had two unusual and unexpected “encounters.”

Doves and Ducks

Passing through the kitchen one morning, I noticed our cat sitting on the perch I had built for her at the window. It is one of her favorite resting places. She was watching the backyard for a squirrel or bird on which to focus her attention. I paused briefly to admire her curiosity. As usual, her attention span was short. She quickly left, finding nothing of interest.

Her impatience caused her to miss something she would have loved. A moment after she had leapt from her shelf, a dove appeared at the window. To my great surprise, it perched on the ledge just outside the window and remained there for a few minutes.

“How odd,” I thought, “how very, very odd.”

While it’s not unusual to see birds around the property, the visitor startled me. Doves do not appear at the windows of this house. Having lived here for over 30 years, I know that well enough. Most startling was the timing of the bird’s landing—just as I happened to be standing there watching the scene at the window.

This mysterious visitor returned the next day and again a few days after that, on these occasions appearing at a window in another room. The blinds, always closed at that window, would have hidden him were it not for the fact that he announced his presence by cooing.
 
Two days later, I was still digesting this experience when I had an even stranger encounter with another feathered friend. It happened while I was walking my dog one Sunday morning up the street on which we live.

Over the years, Woody and I have worn a groove in the sidewalk on Knights Road. It is one of a few routes we follow on our walks. Heading north, we’d just passed the funeral home and were approaching the Catholic Church property when a duck waddled from the church parking lot onto the sidewalk just ahead of us.

She positioned herself squarely in the middle of the sidewalk, turned to face me, and began a loud and insistent quacking. It was quickly apparent this was going to be another very unusual encounter. Woody picked up his ears and tilted his head. I looked around, wondering if a neighbor was watching this rare scene. If they lived on this block, surely they’d be as astonished as I was.

When you live in the same neighborhood for as many years as I have, you know what’s familiar and “normal.” When something has changed, such as a new tree planted, or a house painted, it’s easily noticed. I’d never seen a duck of any kind on this busy street, and while I have no experience with them, the behavior of this duck and the way she crossed our path were incredibly odd—far stranger than my encounter with the dove.

If I hadn’t known better, I’d say this creature had a message to convey and was making it clear to anyone who could understand her language. After delivering it, the duck turned and simply walked away. Woody and I went on our way, but I couldn’t shake the impression this bird had left on me. Why had she stopped me right there, and not some other place? Perhaps the church’s sign announcing “Rev. John Paul, Pastor” persuaded the pious duck that she had found the North American branch of the Vatican, and that it was in need of a Swiss Guard.

In the days that followed, I thought more about my experiences with these animals. Because of the timing, I couldn’t help wondering whether they had something to do with my recent plea to God.

continued.....
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DavidMW
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2007, 03:32:34 PM »

April 19, 2005
Lottery Coincidence 
   

A few days before my encounters, I noticed another, but very different, kind of coincidence. This took place on April 19, a newsworthy day and an important one for the Catholic Church. A new pope had been elected, an event that usually occurs just once in a generation.

Since I was spending much of my time in a Catholic hospital, there was no missing this news. A photo of the traditional appearance of the new pope, Benedict XVI, standing at a balcony in the Vatican, was posted on a bulletin board just outside the cafeteria. Next to it was a picture of the famous chimney and the white smoke drifting out from beneath the conical peak.

That day something else happened, although at that moment I didn’t give it much credence. It related to a far less important piece of news: one of the numbers drawn in the Pennsylvania lottery. 0402. I took note of this only because I’d recently bought some lottery tickets. It piqued my interest however for another reason.

Although I’m no expert in lotteries, I know it’s common for people who buy lottery tickets to pick numbers derived from birthdays, anniversaries, or other personally important dates. I quickly realized that the number 0402, when expressed as a date, was April 2. Since that date had just passed, the news of that day was still fresh in my mind. It was the date that the long-serving pope, John Paul II, had died. I pondered this numerical curiosity after doing a quick calculation in my head: any four-digit number should be drawn in the state lottery an average of once in 14 years.

Since the new pope had been chosen only hours earlier, it seemed strangely coincidental that this number, which should appear so infrequently, would be drawn on just this day.   

Although I don’t normally buy lottery tickets, as a small distraction to the events surrounding me I continued to do so for the next month. My winnings were paltry, never more than those annoying small amounts designed to encourage a return trip to the store to buy more tickets. However, my temporary focus on the lottery drawings allowed me to witness other coincidences similar to this one.

Our lives and the world at large are awash in numbers, and because of this, coincidences are inevitable. A friend’s birth date might match the digits in a familiar address, or a phone number could contain digits in a bank account number, etc. Such things are to be expected with any large amount of data. The frequency of the coincidences I was seeing, however, seemed unusual. Their subtle repetition captured my attention. I did not know it, but they were the beginnings of a mystery that would grow over the next few months, eventually leading me in a direction I could not imagine.

Curiosities

Although I wasn’t lucky in the lottery, my real luck was having Dad around to the “lucky” age of seventy-seven. Despite his smoking habit, he lived an average lifespan for a man of his generation, and for that, I was thankful. The doctors did everything possible, but by the time he was diagnosed with lung cancer, there wasn’t much left they could do. He succumbed to the disease with his family by his side on May 14 at Saint Mary’s Hospital. We buried him shortly thereafter. A Catholic priest, who was also Dad’s cousin and childhood friend, presided over the services.

Just before the burial, I made a curious find in the strongbox where Dad kept his important papers. Mom and I were looking for documents to assist with funeral arrangements when I found a clipping of an article on the topic of coincidence. This was unusual because it didn’t seem like something Dad would bother to save, particularly in with his important papers.

Reading the article reminded me of some meaningless coincidences surrounding his illness I’d noticed in the days following April 2.

• Dad learned his fate on April 2, the day Pope John Paul II passed on.
• The white smoke: For John Paul it signaled the start of his papacy. For my father it brought about the end of his life.
• The hospital, just steps away from my father’s home, stood on property where Katherine Drexel was once buried. A wealthy heiress who devoted herself to a life of charity, Katherine Drexel was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II.
• The pastor of the neighborhood Catholic Church is named John Paul.
• All this took place in Philadelphia, often considered the birthplace of democracy, a cause with which Pope John Paul II was closely associated in Europe in the 1980s and ’90s.

A Private Joke

In the weeks following my father’s death, I was busy settling his affairs, but recent events remained at the center of my thoughts. I couldn’t shake the memory of my odd encounters with the duck and the dove. At any other time in my life, those experiences would have seemed peculiar, but given the fact that they occurred when they did, it was hard to believe they were simply ordinary coincidences.

The coincidences I’d seen in the lottery, however, intrigued me even more. The Pennsylvania lottery, like most state lotteries, draws a 3- and 4-digit number twice a day. These coincidences had all occurred in the numbers drawn for those games and all involved numbers that were recognizable to me personally.

I have never had any interest in lotteries or, for that matter, in numbers beyond the ordinary role they play in life, so it was out of character for me to take an interest in something so unusual. 

I take pride in a healthy skepticism of what some people call phenomena. For me, numbers are just what they are for most people: facts and tools--a way to account for our lives. They have no intrinsic meaning. That was not the point, however. My curiosity with these coincidences was not about numbers; it was about a sense of "normal," about what is average and expected. It was about improbability.
 
Like most people, I have an innate sense of what I expect “normal” to look like or, more specifically, how much coincidence I expect to see mixed with the random events of life. With these events occurring in a short amount of time, that sense had been disturbed. I’d always been skeptical that things are somehow influenced from above, but I now began to wonder.

If God were trying to reach someone like me—someone who led a quiet, private life—perhaps He would do it this way, by showing me an unlikely collection and intersection of small events, dates, and even doves and ducks.

Because of the unusual nature of my meetings with those animals, I’d been keeping notes of some of my experiences. While reviewing them one day, I found one describing something that took place when I’d just started buying lottery tickets. Two days after ordering the plaques, I’d bought a ticket with the number 007 on it. That night, the number 007 was drawn in the lottery. At the time, this ordinary event was not remarkable, but it now caused me to think.

Naturally associating that number with the word “agent,” I joked that God might be using new techniques to recruit people—agents--to do meaningful work of one kind or another.
 
“Perhaps that was some kind of sign. After all, if He can do anything, He can certainly move a few ping-pong balls around in a lottery machine to make Himself known,” I thought. Perhaps a good mood this day caused me to make a lighthearted record of these thoughts. I’d recently begun carrying a pocket voice recorder to keep myself organized, and I used it for the task. It would later prove useful when I’d discover something to suggest my comment may not have been so silly.

These thoughts began a new chapter in my experience, one that would involve seemingly impossible odds. By the end of the year, I’d see coincidences so stunning, the possibility of their random occurrence so small, that they would lead to the most unusual discovery of God’s presence I’ve ever heard of.

continued.....
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DavidMW
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2007, 03:36:29 PM »

July 2, 2005
A Gesture


Over the years, I’ve occasionally read about “miracles” and other events that were attributed to the hand of God, but I’ve always been skeptical of such things. They can’t be measured or studied. Belief in them stems from faith.

Despite my skepticism, I was now willing at least to consider the possibility that some of what I’d observed might have been small acts of God, intended to get my attention. This being so, I decided to respond by making a small gesture, a kind of personal salute to God.

I didn’t give it any real thought, but saw an opportunity in some unfinished business from Dad’s funeral. The thank you cards were signed, sealed, and ready to be mailed. Lacking any better idea, I decided to use them and the symbolism of the holiday weekend for the job.

Since the gesture was symbolic, it seemed fitting to use a symbol to make the gesture. Remembering what I’d been taught, that God is infinite, I drew the symbol for infinity, a figure eight, on the envelope flaps. And since I was now entertaining the idea that coincidence might be some form of communication, mailing the cards this weekend seemed appropriate. It was one I thought God might consider meaningful. Perhaps He would recognize I was, in a way, symbolically mailing the cards to Him.

Some scheduled events of this weekend coincided nicely. One was the Live Eight concert, a huge event held in many cities around the world on July 2. The purpose of the concert was to help poor nations burdened by debt. While that is a worthy cause, it was the name, with its number eight, that I found interesting. I imagined it as “God Lives.”

Naturally, the July Fourth holiday also held meaning: freedom--something I’m sure God wants for all people. In addition, it wasn’t lost on me that Pope John Paul II was well known for his part in the freedom movement that swept Europe in the 1980s. Perhaps my gesture would be a salute to him as well.

A Rare Amazement

After my dad's death, much needed to be done around the house, and by August my interest in watching lottery numbers had waned. It was probably inevitable, however, that my curiosity would lure me back to the state lottery Web site. During a visit there in early August, I found the first of what would become a string of coincidences so rare and unusual that I would come to think of them as statistical wonders.

While poking through the winning numbers drawn during the past month I noticed a particular cluster of numbers drawn on a Sunday in late July. All the numbers of the games I’d been following drawn that day bore an uncanny relevance to the events of the past few months.

One was the four-digit order number for the plaques I had bought. The second of the two four-digit numbers picked that day was 0706. This number represents the way July 6 usually is written.

I thought back to that holiday weekend. From experience, I knew how long it took the post office to deliver local mail. Taking into account the July 4 holiday, July 6 should have been the day the thank you cards were delivered. Using my computer’s calculator, I quickly found the odds for these two numbers appearing on the same day: one in fifty million.

The two three-digit numbers also represented something from the events of the past few months. I’d even bought a few lottery tickets using those numbers. I made another calculation, computing the chance of the lottery drawing all four of these numbers on the same day, and arrived at a staggering number.

Numbers have no real meaning. That is unquestionably true. However, I considered the events of the past few months. Before then, these numbers would have been unrecognizable to me. Yet here they were, all drawn on the same day, a Sunday no less.

I was completely amazed by this coincidence. It was entirely different from the others I’d seen in that it was mathematically nearly unbelievable. In comparison, the others were mere curiosities. Trying to put it in perspective, I looked at it in other ways. Based on mathematical probability, if I lived for a few thousand years, it would be unlikely I’d ever see these numbers drawn on the same day. Even the odds to win a mega-jackpot lottery game were not as daunting as this event.

I thought back to one of the first things I had learned about probability in a statistics course in college. Flipping a coin 100 times can result in a long string of heads, or a long series of tails, often defying one’s expectations. I now considered this question: What is normal? When does unusual become very unusual, and when does very unusual become nearly unbelievable?

Charitable Dreaming

This numerical miracle gave me reason to believe my initial observations about the lottery had merit, but it didn’t answer other questions. Why is this happening? Was God really involved in these events? If so, was this a simple hello, an acknowledgement? Was God really looking for people to do good work of some sort? These questions logically led to others: If He was acknowledging me, why in this way? The lottery was clearly an unusual way to do it. Perhaps, then it was only natural I’d ask myself what I would do if, while exploring these mysterious coincidences, I actually won a sizable amount of money. It seemed doubtful that this was the purpose for these events, but, since I didn't play lottery games, I'd never given the question much thought.

Curiosity now sparked my imagination, and despite my doubt, I could not help wondering “what if?” Some daydreaming led to the realization that I would certainly use a substantial amount for charitable causes. But in what manner? I answered that question in a rather amusing way.

My thoughts turned to four-legged friends I happen to be fond of—dogs. I’ve always liked dogs. They’re humble, loving and loyal creatures that perform a great service to humanity. Passing some apartments near my home, I often see housebound dogs looking longingly through the glass doors as Woody and I pass by on our walks. “I wish I could be out there,” they seem to be thinking.

If I ever had an opportunity, a chance to be charitable as a result of good fortune, I would do something to promote dog walking. “I could be the Abraham Lincoln of canines. I could ‘free the dogs,’” I joked, alluding to my Lincoln-like stature.

Though it was innocent and unimportant, I made a note of this charitable daydreaming, just as I’d done with my comment about the number 007. This, too, would be forgotten. And, as with that private joke, a reminder would come months later. This one in an unusual way via some headline news from the Midwest.

September 5, 2005

For a completely different reason, the word “dog” was on my mind one day in early September. It was an ordinary day, but one in which I unexpectedly expressed some brief thoughts to God. Despite the plea concerning my father, I hadn’t made a habit of speaking to Him aloud. This was the first time I’d done so since then. My comments were about a minor issue and lasted only about a minute, but they ended in a way I’d not planned.

Earlier in the day, I’d been thinking about the relationship between God, man, and dogs. We serve a purpose to God just as dogs serve a purpose to man. And so, after expressing my unrelated thoughts to God, I suggested I could be of service in some way, perhaps through volunteer work, something I’d been thinking about doing. I realized that God would probably want the qualities of a humble, loving creature in someone who does good work in His name, so I ended by mentioning that I might make a good dog if He were looking for one. 

My memory of this event had not had time to fade when the next day a coincidence appeared that pointed to, as it is said, the best friend a man can have.

One of the four-digit numbers drawn the following day, Sept. 6, was 0625. Again, the numbers represented a date, in this case a meaningful date, June 25. That was the date of my parents’ anniversary. Since it was a familiar date, I remembered what I’d done that day just a few months earlier. My mother and I had gone to the cemetery to visit my father’s grave on what would have been her and dad’s 56th wedding anniversary. When we arrived home, I was mildly amused to see a dog walking past the house just as we drove up. After parking the car, I caught up with him on foot. He wore a collar and appeared well cared for, but he was alone. Eventually, I found his owner, who lived nearby.

Like so many things I’d been seeing, it struck me as odd, as it was rare to see a dog loose on our heavily traveled street. I’d made a note of the incident, just in case it turned out to be another “visit.”

Ducks, doves, and now a dog. What I’d learned in April applied here as well. “A four digit number should be drawn in the state lottery about once in fourteen years," I told myself. Was this just an ordinary coincidence? For most of my ordinary life it would have been, but this year I had serious doubts.

continued....
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DavidMW
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 03:39:22 PM »

November 17, 2005
Finding Forever


As summer turned to fall, my attention turned to a renovation at home and, for a while, I put aside the incredible string of coincidences that had kept me preoccupied since spring. In early November, however, I received another reminder.

One day while walking Woody past the hospital, I spotted a small card lying on the grass of the hospital grounds. From a distance, it appeared to be a credit card. Since I had recently found the contents of a wallet spilled on the ground nearby, I thought this might have come from that wallet.

After picking it up, I saw that it was not a credit card, but a prepaid calling card sold under the name “Forever Card”. The word “Forever” was spelled out in large script on the front. I assumed it had been used, then simply discarded by whoever owned it. Not wanting to litter, I put it in my pocket and went on my way.

After returning home, I logged on to my computer to answer some e-mail, and while doing so, caught sight of the lottery number that had just been drawn—0905—Sept 5. By now I was quite good at my game of connecting dates and numbers. That was the day I'd expressed some thoughts to God.

The “forever” card was just trash. Or was it? Forever. Infinity. Infinity—forever. The words seemed synonymous to me. Was it a tap on the shoulder?

The signs continued to accumulate, and I continued asking a question I’d never considered in my life. Can meaning be found in the most unexpected places? As the end of the year approached, I was getting closer to an answer.

Help Wanted?

Although my curiosity about these events was strong, until this time I’d been satisfied to simply observe and record what I’d seen. That was about to change. One more inexplicable event would convince me to begin investigating this mystery in my own way. Three 3-digit numbers, as meaningless as any other numbers, were drawn in succession on December 9 and 10:  007, followed immediately by 066 and then 099.

Like the numbers drawn on the Sunday in July, these numbers would have gone unnoticed before the events of the past eight months. Their appearance led me to recall my humorous voice memo about the number 007.

Associating the number 007 with the word “agent,” I’d joked that God might be trying new ways to attract people for meaningful work or service of some kind. My thoughts had, for some reason, taken a comic turn when I remembered the comedic special agent, Maxwell Smart, from the 60s TV series “Get Smart,” and the distinctive, often-imitated way he summoned his associate known as “Agent 99.”

“Well, if that’s what this is about, I need a number!” I had quipped. The number 66 popped into my head. I’d made a whimsical voice memo of the thoughts on my pocket voice recorder. Imitating Agent Smart, I’d said, “Calling agents 66 and 99.”

My private joke was now a cluster of winning numbers in the Pennsylvania lottery. It seemed too impossible to be real. And while the numbers were otherwise meaningless, I suspected the possibility of their being drawn in succession was incredibly small. That is what mattered to me. A calculation to determine the exact odds was too difficult to bother with once I determined they were over 100 million to one. Those are the odds of these numbers being drawn in succession just as I had spoken them nearly eight months ago. As with the numbers drawn on that Sunday in July, this was a statistical wonder.

Many years ago, I gave advice to a friend and coworker who I thought was spending too much money buying lottery tickets. After spending a few moments with a calculator, I put the difficult-to-overcome odds in perspective for him. I explained that if he bought tickets using the same numbers every week, it was unlikely he’d beat the one-in-ten-million odds to win a few million dollars, even if he faithfully purchased tickets for 30 years. “Most people will not overcome odds like that once in a lifetime,” I explained.

Based on irrefutable math, my explanation was accurate, my advice sound. But, now I had seen these same huge odds overcome twice in five months. I now knew with certainty what I’d only previously suspected: This was a legitimate mystery, and one that I wanted to solve.

continued......
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DavidMW
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007, 03:45:45 PM »

A Lottery Code

By mid-December, my interest in these coincidences had reached its peak. The time had come to shed light on this puzzle in any way I could. In addition to this latest event, after finding the calling card, I saw a sudden flurry of more subtle coincidences over the next few weeks. Though their improbability wasn’t mathematically astonishing, they were more numerous and, in that respect, like those I’d seen in the spring. These latest events convinced me to explore an idea that had been lingering in the back of my mind. It was a simple, unusual idea for these unusual circumstances. I wanted to know whether the coincidences I’d seen in the lottery numbers would continue if letters were substituted for the numbers.

In other words, would I see highly unusual coincidences in groups of these letters just as I’d seen in numbers? I had no idea what to expect, but I was willing to give it a try.

Using this idea, I designed a table to make these letter substitutions. The design was simple. After visiting a Web site that generated the random data I needed, I drew up a list of random numbers, each of which corresponded to a random letter of the alphabet.

Since I’d spent the previous months following only the daily winning 3- and 4-digit lottery numbers, my plan was to insert those numbers into this table each day. In doing so, six letters would be produced each day. Entering random numbers into the table should produce gibberish. By its design, I ensured that would be the case. I gave this experiment a name, “The Hello Project,” then printed it out and hung it on the wall for easy reference.

Just below the title, I posed a single question: Hello, is there anyone up there?

By late afternoon on December 14, I was ready to try my model. That evening I entered the newly drawn lottery numbers and saw the letters “C” “U” “P” appear as the corresponding letters for those numbers. They formed a three-letter word, but that was not surprising. I knew that any group of random letters would inevitably form some words.

The following day I repeated my actions, this time entering the 3- and 4- digit numbers drawn that afternoon. The first two letters produced by the table were “I” and “D”. Since I planned to record the letters in a continuous string, these letters followed the letters C-U-P from the previous day. The letters now spelled the word CUPID. In my head, they spelled AMAZING, UNBELIEVABLE.

Since I thought of Cupid as a fictional character, a cherubic baby with wings, this image immediately came to mind; however, it was the symbolism that shocked me. Cupid represents love. Like millions of people, the one word I most closely associate with God, the one that best describes what I know of Him, is “love.” Incredibly, I’d recently made a note in my journal that the one thing I believed was most likely true about God was that He was a God of love. And while the appearance of the word “Cupid” was incredibly surprising, I’d yet to learn its full definition:

Cu-pid (kypd)
n.
1) Roman mythology. The god of love; the son of Venus
2) cupid. A representation of Cupid as a naked cherubic boy, usually having wings and holding a bow and arrow, used as a symbol of love.

I gleaned three words from it that left me stunned:  “god of love”

“Unbelievable,” I muttered to myself. How could this happen? It seemed too fantastic to be real. After some reflection, I proceeded to calculate the odds for the appearance of this word. I suspected I was in for the biggest surprise of my life.

When I created the table, I’d omitted the letter “Z” just for convenience. Using 25 letters instead of the full 26 found in the alphabet made for a simpler design. I calculated the odds by multiplying 25x25x25x25x25 (25x5 letters in the word) or 9.7 million.

Simply put, it meant that the odds of these five letters appearing in order to form the word “Cupid” were one in 9.7 million. “Most people won’t overcome odds like that once in a lifetime,” I’d told my friend.

The appearance of this five-letter word describing God as I knew Him was the third statistical wonder within five months, and this one came with a name. This astounding series of events had taken a turn to near impossibility. 

I tried to grasp just how unusual this was by putting the numbers in some perspective. Since I knew I would eventually tell others about this, I searched for an analogy to describe this nearly unbelievable happening.

Supposing someone wrote a different letter of the alphabet, minus the letter Z, on each of 25 slips of paper and placed them in a bowl. Now suppose they spent two hours a day, 365 days a year, drawing five slips of paper at a time, and then replacing them. Assuming an average of four complete attempts per minute, 55 years would need to pass before it would be likely the word “Cupid” would be drawn out of the bowl once.

Large numbers can be difficult to comprehend, difficult to appreciate. This analogy made it clear just how incredible this was.

I’m not one who reads with interest true stories about the amazing things that happen to people in life—I’m sure there are many. Moreover, I know that in a world of billions of people, one of almost every imaginable experience will eventually occur at random. Through these months, I’d reminded myself of that every so often. “Eventually something like this would happen to someone.” I told myself, “By chance, it just happened to be me.”

That logic no longer satisfied me. My effort to clarify this puzzle produced a coincidence so astounding that no skeptic could ever forget it. These were not random events. Perhaps, some, but certainly not all. God had to be involved.

There was an interesting twist to my “change of heart,” however. It did not come from my heart. It came from my head. An appreciation for these enormous odds persuaded me these were not “accidents” as they are sometimes called. An appreciation for these odds convinced me that divine intervention does exist in our world.

Record Jackpot

When I came up with the idea of turning lottery numbers into letters I hadn’t given any thought to how long I’d continue. Given what happened that first day, it was clear I’d be doing it for a while.

As the months passed, I carefully followed the letters produced by this “lottery code,” as I called it. I didn’t know what to expect next, but I was determined to find it--whatever it was.

Some fascinating coincidences appeared in the six letters produced each day, just as they had in the lottery numbers. And while I remained mindful of the fact that coincidental curiosities would inevitably appear in any data, it seemed clear to me some were not ordinary.

This only reinforced my belief that some of what I’d witnessed were, in fact, small acts of God, intended to get my attention. Naturally, I was amazed by all these events. They were nearly inconceivable. But I began to worry that they had grown into something that might be unexplainable.

I had yet to tell anyone and, as I began to think about that, questions arose. Whom could I tell and what would they think? How could I properly explain something so unusual, so different from anything I’d ever heard of?

Moreover, whomever I talked to would inevitably ask my opinion of these events--why did I think this happened? What would I say?

It was just about this time—in mid February—that my adventure took an unexpected turn. Until now, the coincidences I’d seen and noted had been abstractions of one sort or another, and confined to my journal. After reading some lottery-related headline news, that was arguably no longer true.

A group of workers at a factory in Lincoln, Nebraska, won the largest lottery jackpot in US history, $365 million dollars, in the Powerball game. Since this was front-page news, I didn’t know whether to laugh or scratch my head. At first, I was mildly amused that the largest jackpot in U.S. history had been won in Lincoln, Nebraska, just a little over 24 hours before the start of President’s Day.

A few weeks passed before I read the article more closely and noticed that there were eight winners, a number that is essentially the same character (a figure eight) as the symbol I’d drawn on the thank you cards. 

It was only then that I remembered my thoughts from the previous summer about the charitable work to help dogs. “I could be the Abraham Lincoln of canines. I could ‘free the dogs,’” I had joked. Strange? Unbelievable? While it was strange and unbelievable, I’d reached the point where I could no longer be surprised by anything.

Could this lottery win in Lincoln, Nebraska, so near Presidents Day be intentional? Could eight people winning the largest lottery jackpot in US history be “just a coincidence”? Such curiosities—which some people refer to as signs—are generally just nonsense to me. Yet now I was forced to stop and think. I couldn’t ignore anything, especially as long as this streak of astonishing coincidence continued.

A recent conversation I’d had with my cousin summed it up. Describing her struggle with a difficult and confusing time in her life, she remarked that she felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole, and finding her world becoming “curiouser and curiouser.” I began to think I would soon be joining her, and looking for a white rabbit to cross my path.

continued.....
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2007, 03:49:39 PM »

March 17, 2006
Reggie White


Needless to say, in spite of this curious event, I made no preparations for a lottery windfall. I did, however, make plans to talk with friends about my experiences. As if I didn’t have enough to talk about, one more puzzle piece formed in my game of lottery Scrabble.

I was still dutifully recording the letters when a fascinating curiosity turned up on this day in March. It occurred just after I read, then commented on, a journal entry I’d made in February about a local football legend.

In early February, I had seen a coincidence in the lottery that would have pleased sharp-eyed Philadelphia Eagles fans, if they’d noticed. On Super Bowl Sunday, the numerical sequence “92” appeared in three out of four winning numbers drawn that day. At first glance, the repetition of numbers seemed unusual, but it was even more so because the previous day, in an emotional ceremony, Reggie White, who wore jersey number 92, had been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It’s unlikely that the image of any NFL player of his era was more closely associated with God than “the Minister of Defense,” Reggie White. An ordained minister and outspoken man of God, he might have been a full-time minister had he not been so talented on the football field. Due to his recent, sudden death at age 43, it was his wife who had stepped up to the podium that day to acknowledge the honor and deliver a teary-eyed speech.

Although my skills in statistics are rusty, I was able to deduce that it was unlikely the sequence “92” had appeared that many times in one day in the history of the Pennsylvania lottery drawings.

After reviewing the journal entry regarding this event, followed by some reflection, I expressed, plainly and simply, my opinion on what is important to God: “I think cupid probably likes good people ….protestant, catholic, ……..”

This journal, which I’d been using to record the coincidences, was not a place I recorded personal thoughts, so this comment was somewhat out of place. It was chronologically out of place as well, because I added it to my February entry about the coincidence I’d seen on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Immediately following this amateurish attempt at philosophy, the lottery code turned up another fascinating sequence. The next group of letters that appeared was NFLPVO. It was not hard to imagine an abbreviation or acronym for “NFL Player Voted” in those letters. My journal entry regarding Reggie White had simply been about the numerous appearances of the sequence “92” and the mention of his election to the Hall of Fame.

Like the other coincidences, it was the incredible improbability of it all that interested me. As with the appearance of the letters C-U-P-I-D, the chance of the five letters N-F-L-P-V appearing in this order at that very time was nearly 1 in 10 million. 

While I knew it was a great leap of faith, three months after it had begun, my little project looked--to me--more and more like a spiritual Morse code, if God wanted it to be.

April 2, 2006
One Year Later


April 2, 2006 brought the one-year anniversary of the start of my odyssey, and while that date did not end all coincidence in my life, it did bring what I consider a fitting end to my story. After all I’d seen during the previous year, I needed no further convincing to support my belief of who had acknowledged me in this most unusual way. But, if I had any question, I needed to look no further than the number 008, drawn in Harrisburg, PA on that beautiful Sunday afternoon.

While the chance drawing of that number on this day was less than 1⁄4 of one percent, I’d seen far more astonishing coincidences. But there was just something about that drawing that satisfied me. I shook my head in acknowledgement when I saw, on my computer screen, the number I’d so innocently chosen to represent God in my gesture. Eight.

I knew.

More incredibly, the number was drawn again on June 4, the day I first met the pastor of the local parish, Father John Paul, whom I’d contacted seeking advice on writing this story. The odds of the number eight being drawn at random on both days is about 1 in 200,000.

CONCLUSION

At some point in their education, most students have asked themselves, and perhaps their math teachers, the same question: “Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to use it.” I probably asked myself that question when I was in school. At the relatively advanced age of forty-four, I believe I finally answered it. I’ve found a use for it: to search for God.

By applying math as I did, I learned much in my unique year, including the importance of some words that encouraged me to write this story.
 
Be faithful to the truth and to its transmission,
for truth endures; truth will not go away.
Truth will not pass or change.
-Pope John Paul II

This statement needs no explanation, but like everything else in my story, had to have its own number. Quite fittingly, it is the same number I found so curious one year ago, 0402, or as I'd imagined it, April 2. That was the day Pope John Paul II died in Rome. Coincidentally, the bouncing lottery balls produced this winning number one evening in January, a few hours after I discovered this quotation and copied it to my journal.

I’ll be the first to admit that my novel way of hearing from God is rather cryptic. Nevertheless, I believe it allowed me to glimpse one of God’s lesser-known attributes. Despite the seriousness of our world, He is happy to see us laugh.

If that is true, then perhaps it was my Internet profile that indicated I was a candidate for His unusual communiqué. Like many people, I don’t include any personal information in the profile that is registered for my e-mail address. Instead, as many people do, I fill in the blanks with something humorous. I list my occupation as “peripheral visionary.” That “profession” comes from a comedian’s joke I heard years ago. He described it as someone who sees into the future, but off to the side a bit. I may have found a new definition: someone who looks at the less obvious, considers its value, and wonders where it may lead. That description best describes how I pieced together unrelated facts and saw what I thought might be part of something larger. 

Early in my adventure, I considered that if God wanted to reach someone like me, someone who led a quiet, private life, perhaps this is how He would do it. He might show me an unlikely collection of events and see if I noticed. I did.

He may choose to remain a mystery, but I feel that in my own way, I’ve come closer to knowing the truth. The Psalm’s message is correct. “He is.” And closer than I ever realized.



Copyright © 2006 David Wilkins
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2007, 11:24:53 PM »

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Thoughts on “Look Closely and You Will See Him”

Part 1 of 3

These Q&A are a supplement to the story, “Look Closely and You Will See Him.” I wrote them to give readers a better understanding, and hopefully a greater appreciation for the events in the story.


Q: Why did you write the story?

A: I am not a writer, professionally or otherwise. I've never written a story before and it's not in my nature to share personal experiences with people I do not know. But I knew that some of my experiences were extraordinary, and if I were going to share them, I would have to write about them.

I believe I am like most people in that I expect rational explanations for the things that happen in life, and while there is a rational explanation for these events, the chance that all of them could have occurred at random is extremely small. In particular, with regard to three of the coincidences that occurred in the lottery, it is very rare (mathematically) for events like those to occur at all. The fact that three occurred within five months is truly incredible.

I believe most people who are skeptical of divine intervention would believe that God was involved in some of these events if they were to experience them just as I did. In fact, when describing the events to someone I was working with, I said that had someone who worked with statistics and also happened to be an atheist been by my side that year, he or she would, at the least, be agnostic by now.

Q: How did you go about writing the story?

A: My intention was to write a chronology of events from that year using about 7000 words. I wanted to include all of my experiences that were relevant to the topic of coincidence. I included a variety of coincidences that ranged from curious to mathematically amazing. Obviously, I had of way of knowing if any of those events were the work of God. But, as I say in the story, I believe that at least some were.

When I first thought about writing the story, I was hesitant. I had to get past some concerns: could I explain this unusual topic and do it in a limited number of words? Could I explain abstract events that had a mathematical foundation? There is an inherent difficulty in writing about math, especially for someone with limited writing skills. I'm sure it's a challenge even for a skilled writer. Could I find a way to describe these things so that people would appreciate them? Not everyone likes math or appreciates statistics. I also wondered if the unusual topic would make it sound like a "story." I had no interest in entertaining anyone, only in talking about my experiences.

Q: What was your reaction to the incidents with the dove and the duck?

A: I was taken aback because they were so unusual, so out of the ordinary. I told a few family members about the incident with the duck on the day it happened. As I wrote in the story, those experiences were outside of the routine of life, as I know it. They might be appreciated best within the context of my life, however. In some places, meeting a duck near a church on a Sunday morning or a dove at a window may not be uncommon. However, Knights Road is a busy street with four lanes of constant traffic. Nothing there would attract a duck. I wasn't keeping a journal of any kind when those events took place, but they were unusual enough that I made note of them. I'm glad I did because I would not have remembered the exact dates. They were helpful in laying out the timetable of events in the story.

Q: You write about finding a lost dog and then a card, both of which ended up connected to a coincidence in the lottery. Isn't it fair to say that coincidences like those are bound to occur in life?

A: Yes. Coincidences are an inevitable part of life. If, for whatever reason, I had noticed one of those coincidences at some other time in my life, I would have simply ignored it. When seen in the context of the other coincidences, however, I found them very curious. That is why I included them in the story. It is important to note that there are differences between the lottery-related coincidences in the story. There are two different types. I would describe the coincidences related to the dog and the card as very curious. However, what prompted me to write the story were the ones that I referred to as "statistical wonders." I used that term to distinguish them from the others. As a group, the possibility of their random occurrence was truly extraordinary.

Q: Why did you use this method (table of letters) to help you understand these events? What did you expect to see?

A: I had nothing to guide me, no book to read for advice. I knew that if I were going to shed any light on what was happening I would have to find my own way to do it. The idea seemed harmless. If the coincidences were to continue, I thought I might gain insight by looking at letters instead of numbers. I probably should point out that I don't normally spend time exploring such unusual projects. The fact that I took that step (created the table) is an indication of how serious I considered these events to be.

I did not know what I would see, but frankly, I thought there was a good chance I would see something very unusual because I had already seen enough to lead me to believe there was a good chance that God was involved in some of these events. I did not anticipate seeing something that almost anyone would describe as nearly unbelievable.

Incidentally, in the first few months I used the table, I considered modifying it so that it would produce more than six letters each day. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't necessary.

Q: What went through your mind when you saw the word cupid?

A: The shock of what happened did not hit me until I read the definition. I don't think I'll forget that moment for the rest of my life. There were two thoughts that immediately came to mind. Why did this happen to me? And why does God choose to remain a mystery--why does He choose to work in these mysterious ways? I assume He must choose to remain a mystery because--as far as I was concerned--I had just seen how easily he could make himself known in a way that was not ambiguous. That question about why He preserves this mystery is, for me, still the most interesting of all.

CONTINUED......

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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2007, 11:33:28 PM »

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Thoughts on "Look Closely and You Will See Him"

Part 2 of 3

Q: There are many words used to describe God. Since the letters produced by the table are random, any of them could have appeared instead of the word cupid. Doesn't that fact make that happening less coincidental than it appears?

A: I can think of only a handful of words I would recognize as words used to describe God. There is a very small chance for any word in that group to have formed in those letters that day. It's interesting to note that the chance of the word god appearing is 1 in about 16,000. That's because it is a three-letter word. For a five-letter word, like Jesus, the odds are about 1 in 10 million. For a six-letter word like Yahweh, the odds are 1 in 244 million.

The same point can be made for the letters "NFLPV" that appeared in March. For example, a sequence of letters like "REGGI," "WHITE," "RWHIT," or "REDGE" could have appeared instead. If I thought about it long enough, I could probably think of ten different groups of letters that would have seemed coincidental at that point. That would still make the odds a million to one that any of them would have formed at that very time.

One result of all of this was that I learned more about random letters than I ever expected to know. Shortly after I began using the table, I did a little research. I searched thousands of randomly generated letters to see how often words appear. I discovered that two- and three-letter words are not uncommon. Four-letter words appear less frequently. And five-letter words like cupid are quite rare.

Q: Using the example of the nine digits that were drawn in order in December, aren't there many opportunities for a group of numbers like that to appear together in those games?

A: Yes. There is more than one way of looking at the probability of the events I included in the story. Using that example, you could look at the chance for that sequence of numbers to appear on any one day, in any one year, or in an average lifetime. I was writing a story with a limited number of words and I didn't want it to read like a technical paper, so I described the probabilities in the simplest terms. For the first and second "statistical wonders," the odds I cited are for the chance drawing of those numbers on any one day. The probabilities for any of those events to have occurred in any one year are still very small. An event that has one chance in 100 million to occur on any day has one chance in 274 thousand to occur in one year. More importantly, the odds are 1 in 75 billion for an event like that to occur twice in one year. A number of that size is a much better indication of the rarity of a combination of three events like those in the story.

I included analogies in the story because it is difficult to grasp the enormity of numbers once they reach a certain size. I knew I had to impart an appreciation for the numbers in perspective. A true appreciation of the story relies on an appreciation of what might best be called the "improbabilities."

Here are a couple of examples of how analogies can create perspective. These are two that I thought of but did not use in the story.

Let's say someone were to look for a string of nine digits to be drawn in order in the games I'd followed in the Pennsylvania lottery. And for good measure, let's say that person also looked for the first nine digits of his social security number, home phone number, and cell phone number. Assuming those state lottery games continued for a very long time, based on probability, it would be mathematically unlikely for him to see any of those four series of number drawn in order in his lifetime. It would also be unlikely that future generations of his family would see any of those same numbers drawn in order in their lifetimes.

Assuming one generation is 20 years, 1000 generations could pass and it would still be mathematically unlikely for any generation to see any of those four series of numbers drawn in order even once. (Note: This applies to the four nine-digit numbers that belonged to the first person.)

Here is another example. This one puts the improbable nature of the three events I labeled "statistical wonders" in perspective. Imagine if someone were to win $250,000 in a state lottery game, followed by another $250,000 a few months later, and then $100,000 one week after that. While there is no perfect analogy to use for something like this, this example of extreme luck applies the probabilities of those three events to real world events.

Q: You write that you considered talking to friends about your experiences. Did you ever do that?

A: I tried, but I quickly realized it wasn't the best way to tell the story. It made me realize I had to write about it. Since there were many events, I needed to lay it out and then present it in one piece. Then, I started worrying about whether I could write the story. Writing is not one of my favorite things to do, so I cringed at the thought.

Q: Before you had these experiences, what was your opinion of events that others attributed to the hand of God?

A: I don't seek to read stories about divine intervention or phenomena that are attributed to God, but occasionally I've come across stories like that in newspapers or on television. I don't dismiss claims made by people who experience such things, but I am skeptical. Belief is a powerful thing. It can easily overtake a more reasonable explanation for some event, and very often people who embrace the idea of miracles and divine intervention are strong believers in God and such phenomena beforehand. In addition, I think most people prefer to interpret things in a way that makes them feel good about life. That's human nature. My experience was different in that it wasn't just one event that seemed hard to explain. It was a series of them. Also very important was the fact that I could measure some of the things that occurred. Therefore, I could look at them objectively. That is what made them so convincing to me.

Q: Is your experience a "born again" experience?

A: No, not as I understand that term. I think people who consider themselves born again often arrive at that point after searching for more meaning in life or while experiencing difficulties on the road of life. It is an internal, spiritual process. My experience was not like that. It came about by surprise. It wasn't something I anticipated or was seeking. In addition, it was not a spiritual process. I came to believe in God's presence on earth by witnessing what was, to me, an extraordinary series of events in the world around me. I believe there is an infinitesimally small chance that all of those events could have occurred at random in a short period of time.

Getting back to the spiritual aspect, I can say that I now regularly attend mass. I began doing so at the start of 2006. Not so coincidentally, that was a few weeks after I learned the definition of the word Cupid.

Q: You write that you got the impression that God was happy to see us laugh. Why did you write that?

I did not write about everything that I experienced. I had a good laugh at a few of the things I saw that were not included in the story. They seemed intended to deliver a laugh.

CONTINUED.......
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2007, 11:39:09 PM »

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Thoughts on "Look Closely and You Will See Him"

Part 3 of 3

Q: Were there any other curiosities or coincidences you made note of but did not include in the story?

A: Yes. I included in the story the coincidences I considered the most interesting--those that were particularly startling or unusual from the standpoint of probability. There were, however, smaller events that were noteworthy and coincidental in some way. For the sake of completeness, I recorded most of them. I reached a point where I jotted notes about anything that was unusual and coincidental. I didn't know what to make of some of it, but I thought it would be easy and prudent to record them.

One I found interesting occurred in January. Early that month, I decided to attend mass for the first time (other than on a holiday) in about 20 years. I had a spur-of-the-moment idea before I left for church. I'd planned to put a five-dollar bill in the collection plate. Before leaving, I took one out of my wallet and drew a small infinity symbol in the margin of the bill. I dropped that bill in the collection at mass. I guess I thought of it as another small gesture. The next day the number 005 was drawn in the lottery. Naturally, it reminded me of what happened the previous summer when I did the same thing with the thank you cards.

February

During the first few months of 2006, I debated about whether I should talk with anyone about my experiences. I didn't know if they were meant solely for me. I didn't know if they were meant to be a private experience--what some people might refer to as a calling. I thought they might have been a suggestion, a gentle push to consider work in service to others in whatever way I saw fit. Though it may sound a little flip, privately I was somewhat lighthearted about it. Picking up on the joke I had made about "agent 66," I wondered if I should remain "undercover" or "anonymous" so to speak. In other words, keep these experiences private. Although I took the events seriously, that is how I addressed the question in my notes.

At some point, I noticed a peculiar series of letters appear in the letters produced by the table: MRDOE. The evening they appeared, I made a note of it in the journal I'd been keeping to record these events. "The only Mr. Doe I know is named John," I wrote. Obviously, I was referring to the name that is often used for an anonymous man. The first two letters that appeared the next day were "NO." Considering my circumstances, I found that quite interesting. Though it's just two letters, the chance of seeing them at that point is less than one percent.

Another curious event occurred around the time I began to consider the idea of sharing the story. It happened on a day in February when we had a new entry door installed in the house. After the installer finished the job, I examined what he had left: keys for the new locks and a small bottle of white touch up paint for the door. By that time, I guess I had trained myself to look very closely at life. I noticed the name Wright stamped on the keys along with two sixes. Wright appeared to be the lock manufacturer's name. The small bottle of paint was the type used for nail polish. It had a tall, white stem-like cap with a built-in brush. There was nothing written or noted on it except the number 31, cast into the glass on the bottom of the bottle. Once again, the coincidence was related to a lottery drawing. 031 was drawn that afternoon. I made note of the event because of the fact that Wright is pronounced the same as, write, something I was considering for the first time in my life.

April

This next one was very different in that it had nothing to do with the lottery. It happened one day while I was having a conversation with my mother at her house. We were sitting in the living room across from each other and the television was on. My mother was speaking when suddenly, for no apparent reason, the channel changed on the television that was across from us. I stopped her in mid-sentence because neither she nor I had our hands on a remote control. Obviously, that is odd, but other things also struck me about this unusual happening. About a second before the channel changed, she uttered the words "it was part of a plan." I remembered them distinctly because I suddenly became very aware of everything, as you often do when something surprising happens very suddenly. The television had changed–seemingly by itself--to a channel that I'd never watched before, one that displayed various messages of interest to the community. It was called the Community Bulletin Board. Also odd was the fact that the cable box never changed its display. According to the display, the box remained tuned to the channel that had been on. I've used that cable box quite a bit and I'd never seen anything like that happen before. For that matter, I'd never seen it happen under any circumstances. It was very, very unusual.

May

An event that was somewhat similar occurred just a few weeks later. By then I'd reached a point where I'd decided to write about my experiences in a simple chronology that I could give to friends and family. Beyond that, I didn't know what to do with it. I considered the possibility of having it published as a magazine article, but I didn't know if any magazine would have a need or place for such a story. I knew nothing about writing or the publishing business. Since I was a complete novice about the whole thing, I placed an order for a book titled "Christian Writers Market Guide," a resource for writers on the publishing market. On the day the book was to be delivered I heard a truck pull up outside. I went downstairs to accept the package. Then something very odd happened. As I took the package in, I noticed that the television was on in the living room, which is adjacent to the front door. The television was not displaying any programming, only a rarely used menu that is generally accessed by a cable technician. Interestingly, this menu contained some adjustable settings for the cable box, most of which pertained to "text" (closed captioning), and how it was to be displayed on the screen. My mother and I were the only two people in the house, and neither she nor I knew how the television had gotten into that state. When this happened, I'd long passed the point where I could be surprised by any event. I just wrote it down and went on my way.


Copyright 2007 David Wilkins
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