Sunday, April 7, 2013

Serendipity on Highway 183

Some words stick in the mind, and serendipity is one of many rattling around my cranium. In college, I hung out at a retreat called Serendipity House. I’d never heard the expression before, so after my first visit, I hit the dictionary.

 Imagine learning this fun-to-say term meant happy accident or pleasant surprise. That definition fit the old two-story home that served as meeting place and comfort zone for on-the-cusp-of-adulthood young people. Since that time, other unexpected pleasures have made me smile and recall that melodious word along with the warm feelings that accompany it.

Recently, I lucked into one of those unanticipated bits of fortune that make me realize how blessed I am to call this prairie home. My unforeseen benediction required a sequence of events to fall into place. Once they did, I recognized I’d encountered a mini-miracle.

Yes, there are big miracles that no one can miss, and there are tiny wonders that happen every day that we may or may not recognize. Fortunately, this one snapped me like a full-stretched rubber band so I knew I had enjoyed something pretty darn special.

My happy adventure began in the wee hours before dawn. My husband and I awoke dark-early to drive to the Platte River so I could crane watch. He knows I love seeing tens of thousands of my favorite birds staging along its shallow waters, so he humors me with these Spring  junkets. It doesn’t hurt that a nearby Cabela’s is a great place to warm up after a frosty bird watching endeavor.

When we hit Highway 9 in the deepest shadows of pre-dawn, I noted the full moon that had shone into my bedroom window the night before had journeyed from East to West, where it hovered like a big ol’ communion wafer. By the time we reached the bridge over Harlan County Reservoir in Nebraska, pale rose and lavender fingers infused the eastern horizon, but the only star-spiked black outlined that buttery globe in the West.

Somehow, I got so busy watching dawn break that I forgot to keep an eye on that sinking disc. North of Holdrege, Nebraska, sunrise was in full display. A huge yellow sphere pierced orange skies when I thought to look West. Instead of the retina-blasting glow in the East, pale blue silhouetted a fading ball that was only a whisper of its earlier brilliance.

That particular section of Highway 183 permitted a clear view to the East and to the West so that I could see almost the exact moment that sun and moon were directly across from one another like round ends of dumbbells. If I’d been home, I’d have missed seeing this alignment of two perfect orbs because of interfering rooftops and a slight rise west of our house. 

In this serendipitous flash, every sense tuned into the cycles of light and dark that drive human existence. The imaginative side of me considered that for an instant, my husband and I swung in a prairie hammock whose ends connected to both sun and moon.

While I expected the exciting part of our quest to be skies and cornfields filled with thousands of sandhill cranes, that part of the day was just the cherry topping the hot fudge sundae. The instant of discovering me suspended between rising sun and sinking full moon will trigger 1000s of future smiles and the joyous repetition of one of my favorite words--serendipity.

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