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Warmest regards: Coincidence or something more?

Every now and then when I’m writing a newspaper story I have a hard time finding the exact word I need.

That was the case recently when I was describing what happened at the St. Vincent de Paul service center that helps the needy.

According to one SVDP interviewer, a woman came in with her 8-year-old daughter asking for groceries. While they were packing up the food the little girl told the interviewer it was her birthday.

When he asked what she wanted for her birthday, the little girl said she was longing for a bike but her mom said she didn’t have money to buy one.

The interviewer wished they had a bike at the donation center that he could give the little girl. Unfortunately, the only bikes they ever stock were the adult ones they give to the homeless.

Not more than a few minutes later a car pulled up with a donation.

It was a child’s bike.

There was one very happy little girl who finally had a bike of her own.

“We never get children’s bikes. What are the odds one came in while the little girl was there?” marveled the interviewer.

While it might not be extraordinary for someone to decide to donate their kid’s old bike, what makes it extraordinary is that they drove it to the donation center while the birthday child was there wishing for a bike.

The following week a distraught single mother of five children called the social service center to say her old washing machine broke and could no longer be fixed. Did they have a replacement one for her?

“Unfortunately, we don’t often get washers and we don’t have any here,” the telephone volunteer told the mother.

A short time after he hung up someone called to say she had a washing machine to donate. Could they come pick it up?

Normally donors have to wait for volunteers to schedule a pickup. But the worker was so happy he could help the frazzled mother that he said he would be right there.

She had her much-needed washing machine by the end of the day.

Again, a SVDP volunteer was amazed that the call came right after the mother of five called with her urgent request.

What are the odds?

Something special was going on there. The two unusual happenings were certainly not in the league of what could be called a minor miracle.

But it sure had to be more than coincidence.

After struggling for the appropriate words, I thought perhaps I could describe those two happenings as help from Divine Providence.

To make sure I was on the right track, I looked up the meaning of Divine Providence. Quite simply (although there was nothing simple about that my research) it said Divine Providence was God’s intervention in the universe … his way of expressing his love and caring.

Yet the more I delved into Divine Providence, the more complex it got.

I wanted a clear, concise and simple explanation of events that seem beyond coincidence.

My friend Fran has the ability to simplify everything. She said when happenings seem way out of the range of probability or coincidence, it’s probably a God wink.

“A God wink is just God’s way of reminding us of his presence,” Fran says.

OK, I’m familiar with the term. But I researched God wink to make sure I was using it appropriately.

I thought the term God wink was around for a long time. But research showed it came into being in 2001 in a book written by author and television executive Randy Robinson.

When Robinson was looking for an explanation of what seemed to be beyond the range of chance, he coined the term “God wink.”

He went on to write 12 books on the subject, including “When God Winks at You: How God Speaks to You Through the Power of Coincidence.”

That book is filled with compelling stories people experienced that seem beyond the realm of coincidence.

He tells the story of Marvis Jackson, a woman living in Anaheim, California, who went by Crystal Cathedral for 20 years.

She admired the reflective glass structure and kept telling herself she would go there “someday.”

For two decades, “someday” wasn’t on her calendar.

Then one day, for no particular reason, she finally decided to visit.

She was moved by how the glass ceiling slid open as if to invite the birds to worship and she was taken with all its splendor.

At the end of the service, Marvis turned to a woman next to her and said, “Wasn’t it wonderful?”

As what frequently happens with strangers, the two women started talking about what brought them there.

The young woman told Marvis she was from the Midwest and came to California to try to find her birth mother.

“Oh, I know how you feel about not knowing about her. A long time ago I had to give my little girl up for adoption, even though I didn’t want to.”

“Do you remember her birth date,” asked the young woman.

When Marvis answered Oct. 30, the young woman gasped, “That’s my birthday.”

When they confirmed that they were long-lost mother and daughter, they marveled at the chance meeting that made that happen.

Was it chance?

Or was it a God wink, God’s way of talking to us?

You decide.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.