Synchronicity: How Does it Work?

It starts with paying attention.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Are you in tune with synchronicity? Do you notice how something seems to come together from several different angles to send the same message? Or how once you become aware of something you want or start to dream or pray about it, it seems like the messages of encouragement and confirmation pop out of the woodwork and the universe seems to conspire to make things happen for you?

Synchronicity is God sending us messages anonymously. — Deepak Chopra

Some spiritual people call this synchronicity and believe, that indeed, the universe is on your side, pulling forces toward you to bring you to the next step in your life or to a revelation that will alter the course of your life.

Some call this the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, or God, guiding you as you pray, imagine, dream, ask, and seek. Confirmations may come from a book you are reading, a song on the radio, a friend’s random (seemingly) comment, or your observations.

Skeptics say it’s just you becoming better attuned to the world around you. Like how when you want to get pregnant you notice dozens of pregnant women wherever you go.

Elizabeth Gilbert calls it Big Magic and wrote an entire book about its role in creativity.

Most of all, be ready. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new and marvelous ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day. Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly passing through us, constantly trying to get our attention. — Elizabeth Gilbert, from Big Magic

I say all of the above and

Whatever you choose to call “it” (synchronicity, awareness, serendipity, answered prayer) I believe in it because I’ve seen it in action so often in my life I’d be a liar if I didn’t acknowledge it.

Julia Cameron, of The Artist’s Way movement, calls it synchronicity and tells us we should actively expect it and look for its sometimes subtle appearance every single day. Sometimes I forget.

My writing group reminded me last week. As we worked our way through The Artist’s Way workbook, we went around the virtual table and answered the question, “What synchronicity did you notice this past week?”

I drew a blank. And I was sad. I couldn’t recall a single instance of synchronicity. I live for synchronicity. I thrive on it. It keeps me motivated, reminds me that I am connected to a bigger purpose, and makes me feel alive! I also know that when I fail to see synchronicity it’s not because it’s not there, it’s because I have stopped paying attention.

Reflecting back, I realized I had been busy. The kind of busy that meant head down, deadline focused, and I had not allowed myself to daydream, listen, pay attention, or let my mind rest enough to make connections and be open to the Spirit’s ways.

I said a silent prayer and asked for synchronicity to be with me again and reminded myself to slow down enough to pay attention, a practice I’ve been cultivating as the antidote to my tendency to rush through life.

That evening I began to grumble as I checked my Medium earnings for the month. It was pitiful, slashed by 75% since I had started writing on Medium. I felt dejected and wondered why I was writing for what amounted to about $1.09 an hour.

I started complaining to my husband, wondering out loud if I should just chuck writing and focus on what actually pays the bills. Maybe it was a pipe dream to think that I would ever make even a small amount of real income from writing. Maybe I just didn't have what it takes.

Maybe this was my sign from the universe? Stand down, Mary. We don’t need your words.

While I had the Medium app open I noticed a story from one of my writing group friends and encouragers, Kallie Allen, and I began to read her article titled Mining for Gold in the Books We Read. Synchronicity wasn't messing around this time; I practically felt whiplashed as I read the words she quoted from Tim Denning,

You could never make a dollar on Medium, have zero views, and if you write for five years straight, the rest will take care of itself. The opportunities to make money present themselves when you’ve written for long enough.

Okay, that put the stupid notion of quitting writing to bed. After all, I had tried that once before and it didn’t work too well. Not writing practically ruined me and I had vowed to never stop again, even if I never made a penny from it.

The next day synchronicity struck again. This one gave me goosebumps (or God bumps as some like to spiritualize).

I’ve long been fascinated with books about walking. I love walking too. I think the first book I read about walking was Bill Bryson’s humorous account of his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail (AT). A Walk in the Woods is one of my favorite stories.

I’ve read dozens of books about walkers since and listen, riveted to the storyteller, whenever I hear anyone talk about taking a long walk, a journey. I figure if I read enough books I’ll eventually take my own long walk.

I’ve read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Grandma Gatewood’s Walk (the oldest woman to walk the AT alone), books about other hikers on the AT and the Pacific Crest Trail, and various writings from John Muir.

I opened my newly downloaded book, Blanket of Stars: Thru-Hiking the Camino de Santiago, about a woman who walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This was a new journey I had recently become interested in because my writing coach, Nikki Tate (from said writing group above) has shared her stories of walking the Camino.

The author of this book took time to explain that the walkers on the Camino are referred to as peregrinos, or pilgrims. This designates them as those who are peregrinating, or taking a long walk or journey, often a spiritual journey.

Peregrinate, what a strange word, I thought as I meditated on it. I had never heard or read the word peregrinate before. I found it interesting and tucked this little factoid away for later.

The next morning I picked up my smartphone to check my messages and found a notification from the app. I usually turn these notifications off but this was a new phone and I hadn’t gotten around to doing so. You’ll never guess what the word of the day was that the Dictionary app was notifying me about…well, of course, now you will.

Peregrinate: to travel or journey, especially to walk on foot.

I had to chuckle at synchronicity’s grace and timing. I asked for it and here she was piling it on high and thick.

I felt warm inside, seen, and important to God, the universe. My dreams and prayers were heard. But synchronicity wasn’t done yet. That day she struck again.

I had also been reading the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. He talks about drawing circles around your prayers — literally and figuratively. For example, there were times his church wanted to purchase expensive and out-of-reach property in the D.C. area. He would walk the perimeter of the area where he felt God wanted them to minister — literally drawing circles with his feet while he prayed. Sometimes he circled the area on a map, and his prayer team would “circle” the promises of God — praying over and over for more favor and revelation.

When I was nearing the end of this book my husband was interviewing for a job with a high-profile company. It was the kind of job he could excel at, the pay was just right and the benefits were outstanding — including 25 3-day weekends designed to promote work/life balance. This is something we’ve been looking for and praying about for a long time. It was thrilling that he had made it into the final round of interviews.

That day he received a call from the hiring manager telling him he was not being selected — only because there was an internal candidate that pipped him at the post. He went on to say how impressed he was with my husband’s interview and the versatility he thought he could bring to the company. He said he was holding on to his resume and was certain they could find a place for him.

My husband felt dejected, naturally, but I immediately thought about circling prayers and promises so I started telling him about The Circle Maker and some of the amazing miracles that Mark Batterson and his church have witnessed because they didn’t give up but continued to circle the promises God had given them.

He went to work and I resumed reading Blanket of Stars. I was engrossed in the author’s story of how she found freedom from her fears, an equilibrium for life, and a resurgence of faith on her journey.

I was at the part where she was telling a story about the one and only time she prayed specifically for something (interesting intersection across books I thought). She needed a car, didn’t have much money as a single mom, but through the prompting of her babysitter she prayed for a certain make, model, and color and then opened the paper to find a listing for that exact car in a price she could afford. And here is the sentence that stood out in bold as I read: She circled the ad in red pen and prayed again. (paraphrased)

She circled the ad and prayed. I knew this was confirmation that the encouragement I had given my husband and the feedback he had received after his interview meant that we were to keep circling that prayer and the promise of God that He places us exactly where He wants us and that His timing is perfect.

I call that synchronicity. I also call that a love note from God.

Sometimes I write down these special visits from the Spirit of God and sometimes I just say, “Oh, that was you, God. Thank you,” and tuck that sweetness into the folds of my full heart.

My heart was full that week. Synchronicity had lifted my spirits and pointed me away from dejection, helped me to refocus and remember that all things are working in my favor.

Whether you see these occurrences as coincidence, magic fairy dust, or God responding to you in an individual way, I think the important thing is to pay attention so you can notice them.

It takes a lot of faith to remain positive when odds seem stacked against us, when we lose focus, or when we feel unseen, unheard, or unimportant. Have a little faith in synchronicity to help you get back on your feet.

Simplicity guru, nature lover, loyal friend, literacy coach, dreamer. Pick more daisies!

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