Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Was it serendipity or a higher power? By Sandy Semerad

As I reflect on certain events in my life, I can't help but wonder. Did these things occur by chance or was a higher power at work?

Tell me what you think after you've read this:

 Years ago, I worked as a reporter for the Marietta Daily Journal. The phone rang in the newsroom, and I grabbed it.

“Where can I turn to for help?” a woman asked. “It’s almost Christmas and my children still believe in Santa. We’re running out of money for shelter and food. I’ve called the United Way and all the churches. No one will help us,” she said.

I listened to her plea. Her husband and two young children had driven across country to relocate for her husband’s job, she said. He’d been offered a better position, as a trucker for a local transport company.

On the long drive to Atlanta, their car broke down. They spent most of their savings on repairs, she said.

When they arrived in the city, they found a motel they could afford. The room was grimy and scary, but she told herself, it was only temporary. Once her husband started his job, they'd be able to afford a better, more permanent home.

Her husband, being protective, didn’t want to leave his family alone and unsafe. So he took them along with him in his truck. When the company found out, he was fired.

“We have never asked for a handout before,” she said. “I used to criticize people who begged for handouts. Now I know I was wrong to judge.”

Her story touched me. It rang true.

I wrote a feature article about her family’s dilemma. The story ran, with their photo, in the next issue.

The following day, I was in my kitchen, and the phone rang. I started to let the machine get it, but something told me to answer the call.

“Are you the lady who wrote the article about that poor family?” a man asked, and then described in detail what he'd read.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you think these people are dependable?” He asked.


 “I have an apartment, and I’m thinking of letting them live in it for free until they can get on their feet,” he said.

“That would be great,” I said.

A year passed. I was working as an editor for American Health Consultants in Atlanta. Christmas was approaching.

The phone rang in my office. I answered it.

It was the desperate woman, who had called me a year ago. She said she got my new work number from the Marietta Daily Journal. “I had to call and thank you and let you know, we’re going to have a wonderful Christmas this year.”

Her words touched me to tears, but it was years later when I began to wonder. Why was I in that exact spot when the phone rang in the newsroom? Why did I decide to write the story? And why did I answer the phone when that generous man, with the apartment, called?

I don’t know.

There have been many other examples I could share. I’ve included at least one of those instances in A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES, a novel based on a murder trial I covered in Atlanta. The book is primarily fiction, but as a professor once told me, “Fiction is the lie that tells the truth.”

Truth is a relative term, I know. We strive for truth, but don’t always achieve it. As to the truth about what causes certain events to occur, I’m still wondering. Do these things happen by chance—serendipity--or is a higher power at work?

What do you think? 

To find out more, visit my website: http://www.sandysemerad.com/ 

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