Sometimes it’s as simple as a song in a storm

Once in a while, seemingly unrelated circumstances collide into a sort of miracle of timing. We call them “coincidences”, but through the eyes of faith, they are often something more. They are hints of God’s presence — what author SQuire Rushnell (that’s really how he spells his name) calls “God Winks”.

In his book, “When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life”, Rushnell offers definition: “A God Wink is … a message of reassurance coming when you most need it: when you’re at a crossroads in your life, and when instability is all around. It might be said, in fact, that coincidences are the best way for God to establish a perpetual presence in your life”.

Someone else defined coincidence as a time when God acts anonymously.

I experienced such a time on the evening of Sept. 8, 2010. That was when a tornado hit downtown Dallas, then made its way up the Dallas North Tollway.

I was in the sanctuary of our church that evening, orienting a group of youth who were going to serve as readers in worship. Suddenly someone came bursting into the room, announcing with some urgency that a twister was headed up the Tollway toward our location on Walnut Hill Lane. All who happened to be in the building that evening were told to head for Emmanuel Hall, a large choir rehearsal space at the center of the building with no windows. Attendees at committee meetings, classes and other gatherings were herded quickly into the hall to wait out the storm.

As it happened — and this is where the coincidence begins — Emmanuel Hall was also the place where a musical rehearsal was in progress. The next evening, the Claire College Choir from Cambridge, England, was to be in concert as a part of their American tour. If you don’t know the Claire College Choir, you may want to listen to one of their recordings. They are one of the finest choirs in the world. But its members are also college students, and English scholars are not accustomed to tornado warnings.

To put it mildly, they were terrified at this scene, right out of “The Wizard of Oz”.

So what were we to do? The obvious solution was to invite the choir to sing for all those who were waiting out the threat of the tornado. So there we were — an odd assortment of folks seeking shelter from the storm — when one of the world’s finest choirs overcame their fear and broke into the beautiful German “Evening Song” by Josef Rheinberger. The room became hushed, and a strange peace began to replace the fear. The strains of that perfectly blended choir washed over us, and imparted a gentle evening blessing.

It was a holy moment. A coincidence? Perhaps. A God Wink? I suspect so. It served as a timeless reminder of the power of sacred music to soothe the human soul. The songs are always there to see us through, until the storms pass.

Blair Monie is pastor of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church.

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