“Coincidence is God’s way of being anonymous”
Have you ever had those moments in your life where you stop and think “what a strange coincidence” ? My mom always says there is no such thing as a coincidence and I could not agree with her more on that.
This past weekend, after spending time with friends, we went to Sunday mass at the Grotto of Lourdes at Mount St Mary’s in Emmitsburg. Being tucked away in the mountains, the grotto is a beautiful place where you can escape from the rest of the world and feel at peace. The grotto holds a special place in my heart for several reasons.
When I was younger, during my battle with brain cancer and radiation side effects, my mom and I spent many afternoons wandering around the grotto and exploring the world of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. (My parents ironically named me Elizabeth Anne after my grandmothers..coincedence?) Between everything going on with my health, my dad slowly dying of ALS, and trying to keep up with my older brothers; life was pretty crazy at my house so a trip to the grotto was always a nice treat. Being tucked away in the mountains, the grotto is a beautiful place where you can escape from the rest of the world and feel at peace. I can remember going there both before and after each surgery to remove the tumor, having this feeling of strength and encouragement, leaving there feeling refreshed and renewed. Once the side effects from the radiation started to occur, becoming physically disabled, and having very little hope, we spent a lot of time at the grotto. Whether my mom pushed me around in a wheelchair or she tightly held onto my arm, as I was determined to re-learn how to walk, the two of us always felt at peace. We always met the most interesting people with amazing stories or just a person who knew what to say or how to help, like someone picked them out specifically to run into my mom and I. Having a strong faith, it was and still is obvious to me what a holy place it is.
Fast forward almost 10 years later, I was away in college in Pittsburgh. To me, northwestern Pennsylvania is a beautiful part of the country and because my family is originally from the area, we spent a lot of time there. Also, I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and living in Pittsburgh was something I wanted to experience. However, what I found out is that I’m a homebody and love being close to my family, 5 hours away was too far! I really had hoped moving to Pittsburgh for school was the right thing but it just wasn’t meant for me. No offense to Pittsburgh, love the city but who says you can’t go home? Instead of just transferring back to community college, I decided to try another four-year university where I could live on campus but be close enough to home incase I needed anything. As I started searching, my best option was Mount St Mary’s University and the grotto where I had gone some many times before in search for hope.
I ended being accepted into the Mount and had a wonderful four years while I was there! The Mount challenged me to discover my full potential. My faith grew so much stronger during my time there! I am so thankful and blessed to have gone there. I met so incredible people while at the Mount and am proud to be part of the Mount community despite all the controversial issues going on right now.
As I was sitting at mass on Sunday, I couldn’t help but reflect on how weird and crazy it is that the place I retreated to when I was sick and needed to find myself also ended up being the same place I went to find myself in college.
At the time, I was really disappointed Pittsburgh didn’t work out and it seemed like I hit a dead end in my plans but as usual God has greater plans for us. When God closes one door, He always opens another, sometimes we just have to search for it and have courage. I don’t believe in coincidence, everything happens for a reason and I know an anonymous God is watching over us.