Posts Tagged ‘coincidence’

Full Circle: John Rollwagen

November 30, 2016

I interviewed John Rollwagen, former chairman and CEO of Cray Research, for a Minnesota business magazine article titled “Full Circle.” John’s story is a perfect illustration of the value of connections, synchronicities and how we often find ourselves in someone else’s orbit.


Androcles, the Roman slave who removed a thorn from a lion’s paw, was later spared from death when the lion recognized him in front of a bloodthirsty crowd in the Coliseum. If Androcles had been a Twin Cities business leader, a seemingly isolated incident early in his career would undoubtedly have led to his company capturing the lion’s share of the market years later.

These three stories from Twin Cities businesspeople illustrate the inscrutable relationship between connection and coincidence. Call it karma, reaping what you sow or what goes around comes around; inexorably, like a circle completing itself, scales are balanced and debts repaid.


John Rollwagen

John Rollwagen

When I was 12 years old, George Hanson was my scoutmaster at Cleveland Avenue Methodist Church in St. Paul. In the summer of 1959, when I came back from my first year of engineering school at MIT, I was looking for a summer job and my dad said, “Why don’t you call George Hanson?” I said, “George Hanson, my old scoutmaster?” He said, “Yeah, I read in the paper that some new company is starting up. It’s Control something. George is involved and maybe they’d have a spot for you.”

The company turned out to be Control Data and I (more…)

Love Note

September 5, 2014

I love this story by Paul Grachan, Lockport, Illinois. Many people look for signs that the Universe has delivered their soulmate to them. Well, you’re not going to find a sign any clearer than this one!

Paul’s story appeared in a Guideposts e-letter. Click here to sign up for Guideposts‘ free Mysterious Ways newsletter. You’ll also be able to download a free e-book, Mysterious Ways: 9 Inspiring Stories That Show Evidence of God’s Love and God’s Grace.

He thought it odd that he’d found a dollar bill with his new girlfriend’s name on it. Little did he know . . .

How do you know when you’ve met the love of your life? I couldn’t stop thinking about Esther. I laughed whenever we were together. My spirit soared at the sight of her. But we’d only been on a few dates! Was I really going to take her to dinner that weekend and ask her to be my girlfriend?

I knew she liked me but I was still nervous.

On my lunch break, I ran into a deli for a sandwich, pulling some bills that I had received as change earlier in the day from my wallet to pay for it. I glanced at them as I handed them to the cashier. Something was written on one of the dollars. I snatched it back and took a closer look.

In pencil, right next to George Washington, was the word (more…)

Tuned to the Right Frequency

December 23, 2013

Carl Jung coined the term “synchronicity” to explain evidence of the sacred in everyday life. Case in point: this story from Caroline Updyke of Short Hills, New Jersey, which appeared in the January 2014 issue of Guideposts.


life-after-life-radioIt was a station their radio wasn’t programmed to receive, but the connection was made, loud and clear

There’s a reason my husband, Eric, and I got satellite radio. It’s reliable. We live in a woodsy, hilly area, and just driving around town I used to lose my favorite station. Or the signal would get crossed with one from another station.

That never happens with satellite radio. We have it set to an oldies channel. The signal is locked in, the sound crystal clear.

That day I was especially glad to (more…)

A Rope of Hope

June 11, 2013

I can relate to stories like this. So many times I’ve felt guided to do some minor thing I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. I’ve learned to follow my intuition without questioning it because trying to make sense of it at the time is impossible. You just have to trust that everything will unfold (or, in this case, uncoil) in its own way in its own time.

This story was written by Sandi Sebak Bean of Bottineau, North Dakota, and featured in a Guideposts e-letter. Click here to sign up for Guideposts‘ free Mysterious Ways newsletter. You’ll also be able to download a free e-book, Mysterious Ways: 9 Inspiring Stories That Show Evidence of God’s Love and God’s Grace.

There was something in our church craft cabinet . . . something I’d never seen in there before

coil-of-ropeI walked over to our church’s craft cabinet, hoping to find some project ideas for kids. In just a few days my husband, Daniel, and I would be taking a mission trip to help the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota build a new church and we’d need some fun things to do with the families.

I’d barely opened the door when a long piece of thick rope (more…)

A Friendly Flight

August 28, 2012

That’s me in the middle with the sport jacket and bowtie. Scott is the second one on the right. In between us is my sister, Cindy (now Cyn). Doesn’t every eight-year-old get suited up for his birthday?

Yesterday, I got to my airport gate for my San Diego-to-Minneapolis flight about an hour and a half before takeoff. There were only a few other people waiting at that point. I sat down, opened my laptop and chose the airport’s free wifi network. I opened my browser and saw that I wasn’t connected to the Internet. Restarting my computer didn’t help. That struck me as odd considering that a guy with gray hair and a visor sitting in the row across from me and five seats down was actively using his laptop.

Finally, I gave up and decided to go buy a bottle of water. I stopped in front of the visor guy and said, “Excuse me, are you connected to the Internet?” He looked up at me, and without hesitation, said, “Are you toying with me?” As he spoke, I was so startled that I physically (more…)

A Taylore-Made Solution

August 27, 2012

My friend Mark was coming to pick me up at 5:30 tonight to drive me to the airport for a two-month trip back home to Minnesota. I had been trying in vain for two months to find someone to rent my room in Encinitas, California while I was away to help defray the rent cost.

At 11:10 this morning, three hours and twenty minutes before I’d be heading to the airport, I had no renter and zero prospects. By the time Mark picked me up at 2:30, I had not only found a renter, she had already moved in and had even taken me grocery shopping!

Out of the blue, Taylore, a friend whom fate had guided me to meet a mere three months earlier, Facebooked me and asked if my room was still available because she needed a space for September until she found a place of her own. I said yes, and, thinking she was still in Europe on a six-week trip, asked what date she’d be arriving. She (more…)

Sarah and Mrs. Z: A Teacher’s Story

April 25, 2012

We are all messengers; the way we live our lives, and how we show up in the world, are messages that we broadcast every minute of every day. Lou Zywicki Prudhomme, a high school teacher from Carlton, Minnesota, thought her message of encouragement and hope hadn’t made much of an impact on her students, until a chance encounter came at just the right time to provide her with encouragement and hope in her own hour of need. This story from the April 2012 issue of Guideposts moved me to tears. I trust it will touch your heart as well.

A reunion with a once-troubled former student helps a teacher deal with her grief

Lou Zywicki Prudhomme

I published an article in Guideposts magazine a little over six years ago: Sarah’s Story, about a troubled eleventh grader in the English class I taught at a vocational high school in Duluth, Minnesota. Sarah was one of the angriest students I had ever taught. But I knew that her anger was simply a defense she’d built up against her deeper feelings of fear and hurt.

Sarah had grown up in an abusive home and had then lived on the streets before entering foster care. Even then she remained disruptive and confrontational—with her fellow students and especially with me, whom she saw as just another authority figure who couldn’t be trusted. She seemed to have no interest in her future.

I was at a loss. I was proud of my teaching, but I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to reach Sarah. Lord, I’d prayed, help me find the key to Sarah’s heart.

Then one day I stumbled onto something that I hoped would grab her attention, a Northern (more…)

The Ultimate Security Guard

February 26, 2012

The odds of this story happening without divine intervention are about three gazillion to one, and that’s a conservative estimate. It was written by Dorothy Nicholas of Asheboro, North Carolina, and featured in a Guideposts e-letter. Click here to sign up for Guideposts‘ free Mysterious Ways newsletter. You’ll also be able to download a free e-book, Mysterious Ways: 9 Inspiring Stories That Show Evidence of God’s Love and God’s Grace.

Our neighbor told me he’d once tried to rob a store. Until one thing stopped him . . .

We were sitting at the table in our Florida home and talking to our next-door neighbors. This young couple had helped us a lot in the past year and a half, after my stroke and my husband’s leg injury.

Unexpectedly, the husband began telling us the story of his troubled past. At 16 he’d fallen in with the wrong crowd in his hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina, and had spent a year in a reformatory. When he was released he’d had good intentions but, because of his record, he couldn’t find a job.

He became desperate and decided to rob a local service station so he could have enough money to leave the state. He stole his father’s car and gun and just before closing time, drove up to the service window of a gasoline station. He was about to demand all the money from the woman manager.

“But just then,” he explained, “I looked up and saw the sign overhead. It read, (more…)

Reunion Soldier

February 9, 2012

Sometimes, in the most ordinary of circumstances, something extraordinary happens that simply cannot be the product of chance. But why it happened and what it means may forever be a mystery. This story by my friend Judy offers a perfect example of a weird and wonderful coincidence that defies explanation.


John, a family friend, sprawled across my physical therapy table. “Judy, my legs have been hurting,” he said with a wince. “Can you do some reflexology massage on my feet for the pain?” As he closed his eyes to relax, I gently rocked his knee and femur, opening the lower hip area. The room was peaceful, filled with the soothing sound of a Mozart sonata.

As I was doing some reflexology and energy healing work on his right foot, I saw an image in my mind’s eye of John wearing a (more…)

Nothing “Accidental” Is Possible

January 30, 2012

We’ve all experienced amazing coincidences that seem to defy the laws of physics, probability and reality itself. Yet when we take a closer look at the nature of reality and see the “oneness” of it all, the amazing becomes commonplace.

Here’s a nice scientific explanation for coincidences, courtesy of Dr. David R. Hawkins, author of the ground-breaking book, Power vs. Force. This is the January 5 entry in Hawkins’ book, Along the Path to Enlightenment: 365 Daily Reflections.

The infinite field of consciousness is All Present, All Powerful, and includes All of Existence. Thus, nothing can possibly happen outside its infinite domain because it is the Source of Existence. Within this infinite field of power, there are decreasing levels of energy fields. As they are expressed progressively in form (linearity), their relative power decreases all the way down to the individual.

The giant field could be compared to an immense (more…)

A Hug From Richard

January 12, 2012

In her book, Heart Prints; Walking on Holy Ground, Julie Ireland Keene starts off a chapter titled “The Faces of Angels Among Us” with a heartwarming story about her son who died far too young. All the elements line up so perfectly that it would be a stretch to attribute it all to coincidence. You make the call.


The wise words of Rumi: “Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment” apply to an experience I had several years ago that remains vivid, consoling, and bewildering. For quite some time I had been focused on releasing the grief concerning my son Richard’s sudden death at age nine. For far too long I had carried the hundred pound weight on my heart and with the help of my dear friend Ione along with spiritual teachers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Stephen Levine, Ram Dass and others, I made great progress. I took care of my unfinished business with him, dealt with guilt over not being a perfect parent, and was able to see the wonderful gift of having this dear loving soul in my life for nine years.

I had always dreamed of Richard in his nine year old earth suit. However, after I had gone through the process of releasing the pain but keeping him close in love, I had a dream of him as a (more…)

The House of Prayer

January 5, 2012

It’s been said that coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. A good illustration is this story by Wanda Priddy of Pearcy, Arkansas, which was featured in a Guideposts e-letter. Click here to sign up for Guideposts‘ free Mysterious Ways newsletter. You’ll also be able to download a free e-book, Mysterious Ways: 9 Inspiring Stories That Show Evidence of God’s Love and God’s Grace.

My son was dying and I needed comfort so badly

All I learned about prayer I learned at 218 Maylott Street. That was where I grew up, raised by my grandma, Mama.

I would lie in bed at night listening to Mama pray for me. “Lord, let Wanda know you are always with her.” Those comforting words stayed with me after I moved out.

It was the comfort I desperately sought at my youngest son Ronnie’s hospital bedside. He was very ill and not expected to make it through the night.

If only someone would (more…)

Dear Santa

December 22, 2011

Here’s a fun story about Christmas, Santa, a little boy, his grown son, and sixty-three years in between them. It was written by Mary Devine of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.


David Wulff, of Minneapolis, found his father's 1948 letter to Santa in a Richfield thrift store. "I called my dad from the store, and I said, 'You're not going to believe what I just found,' " he said. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Christmas miracles can happen anywhere this time of year.

David Wulff was shopping last week at Arc’s Value Village thrift store in Richfield when a letter to Santa caught his eye.

“Dear Santa Claus,” the letter read. “Please bring me (more…)

Nudge, Nudge

December 11, 2011

On my way to Whole Foods tonight, I passed a woman on the sidewalk, startling her as I walked briskly by. She smiled and joked about it as I passed her. Once in the store, I saw her in the produce section and thought, “I’m supposed to talk to her.” That happens often; I can walk into a crowd of people and my attention is drawn to one or two people whom I’m supposed to meet. I’ve learned to pay attention to those intuitive commands and have grown fearless in following through with them. After all, what’s the worst that can happen when you cheerfully introduce yourself to someone?

That nudge-nudge feeling was confirmed when I ran into her two more times throughout the store. Finally, when we both were standing in front of the deli counter, the time was right. I said to her, “We keep on running into each other, so I figure that means I’m supposed to meet you.” She was delighted that I had struck up a conversation. She told me she had lived in Encinitas for many years. When I asked her what kind of work she did, she said she ran a guest house. Bingo! I immediately knew who she was before she told mer her name. It was (more…)

God, Send Someone!

June 13, 2011

This powerful, suspenseful story by Dick Sullivan of Stoneham, Massachusetts, moved me to tears. I have heard many such stories that all convey the same life-altering message: Listen to your intuition and follow it at all costs; there is a power guiding us with infinite wisdom and deep love and all we need to do is trust it. This story was originally published in Guideposts in November 1955.

Was it a coincidence or a true miracle that led to my brother’s rescue?

At 4 p.m. last June 14, my brother Jack Sullivan was just crawling down into a ten-foot-deep trench, which ran down the center of Washington Street, a main thoroughfare in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

It was near quitting time. Jack is a welder, and he wanted to finish one particular part of his job before he left. Jack said goodbye to the other men as they quit, took his welding lead in his right hand, lowered himself and his electric power cable into the trench. His head was well below the street surface.

Traffic up above was heavy. Jack could not see the cars and trucks, but he could feel their vibration as the earth shook slightly. Occasionally a pebble would break loose from the side of the trench and fall. Jack paid no attention to it.

It was Jack’s job to weld the joints of a new water main both inside and out. First Jack crawled into the 36-inch diameter pipe, lowered his mask to protect his eyes against the bright welding arc, then went to work. After completing the inside of the joint he crawled out of the pipe. It was 4:30 P.M. He began to weld the outside. Halfway through he stood up to get the kinks out of his legs. Jack stretched, turned toward the pipe, pulled down the shield again. And then it happened.

The bank caved in. Tons of dirt came (more…)

The Man at the Diner

June 10, 2011

I love stories about unlikely reunions. Click here to read an earlier post in which a man was reconnected to a woman who he last saw as a young girl forty-seven years earlier. Here is a similar story by David Fox of Altamonte Springs, Florida, that was featured in a Guideposts e-letter. Click here to sign up for Guideposts‘ free Mysterious Ways newsletter. You’ll also be able to download a free e-book, Mysterious Ways: 9 Inspiring Stories That Show Evidence of God’s Love and God’s Grace.

A moving truck breakdown led to an unlikely encounter 

It was the day of my family’s big move, from New Wilmington, Pennsylvania a hundred miles south to Stahlstown. My wife, kids and dog went ahead in our car while I drove the rental truck full of our belongings. Driving down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I got a bit nostalgic. Stahlstown was just a skip away from where I grew up, Charleroi.

My great uncle had been a prominent figure in Charleroi, owner of the Fox Grocery Company, a food wholesaler. Every summer, the company hosted a big picnic at Deems Park for employees and their families—with all the food, fun and games a kid could hope for. The only restriction was to stay away from the foul-smelling sulfur creek that ran through the park. Of course, we (more…)