Is it really by chance?

Is it destiny?

Does it matter?

By Chance One Morning

On January 14, I woke earlier than usual, before the sun finished climbing the risers of dawn.

I was sitting outside in the dim light and, by chance, I looked up before closing my eyes for a meditation. By chance, I looked up just in time to see a crane take her first flight of dawn. She was flying so high that, even though the sun was still yawning below the horizon, she caught his light with her easterly wing. She caught a bright ray of light, the first light of dawn.

I sat in awe, staring into the same spot in the sky long after the crane swooped into a nearby lake to take her first meal of the day.

The light on her wing—just the one wing, not her body, not her westerly wing—moved me.

“I’ll write a poem!” I decided.

I jotted down thoughts and lines, but the poem never took form on the page.

I didn’t realize it that morning, but the poem wasn’t the point.


August 15 of 2019: My niece and I walked through fields from my parents’ house to my house, finding our way under a full moon. That walk just happened to be when a scrawny, golden kitten meowed between giant bales of hay.

That kitten, Rosie, feels like destiny. But is she? Who’s to say this funny, healing cat who owns our hearts didn’t come into our lives by chance?

Destiny versus Chance

The question is torturous: Was it meant to be or was it by chance?

I don’t think it matters nearly as much as being open to the awe and open to the moment. Chance versus destiny is a game we like to play, but—whether we happen upon the moments or whether destiny bestows them— the arguments distract us from being, from being mindful, from being present, from responding to those moments. Our response—what we do with our moments—is everything, even if it doesn’t work out like we expect, even if we don’t write the poem.

What if I hadn’t spied that wing catching the first light of dawn? What if I hadn’t walked through the dark field just when a starving, flea-infested kitten had made her way to a bale of hay?

What if? What if? What if?

So what?

The what-if’s are further removed from now than the most ancient tale, farther even than the most far-fetched speculative story about the future.

The point isn’t a clever poem about a bird’s wing and a ray of sunlight. It’s not this kitten that heals our hearts. The point is now, being now, here and now. The point is being open to awe, being aware, being available for whatever the moments we have afford.

I hope I see the brilliance of the first light of dawn on the wing of another bird, but if I don’t, I’m so grateful I was open to that crane’s first flight of dawn on January 14. Even if I didn’t write a poem about it.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.