Define “random”

Today does not seem to be a day for easy resilience. 

Unsurprisingly, I got in late last night from a rock concert. So my precious sleep was whittled down to six and a half hours, not enough for me, because this morning’s appointment with my fitness trainer was unchanged. That work I did, and well…but so hungry I ate a full lunch by 10:30.

I then studied–am nearly caught up for Monday’s class–but after an hour was so faded I decided to lay down rather than pick up the keyboard. I arose to get to my volunteer shift by 1pm, but had argued myself out of going by the time I reached the front of my subdivision. Clerical work is not blessed by foggy-minded folk.

Rested more. Ate more. Slept only a little, and tried to make sense of today’s physical demands. No luck as yet.

How easy it is to be persuaded into believing that God puts words into the office of the day of intent, for the appropriate mouth to utter them. The sortes by another way.
–said by the character Philip FitzRobert in Brother Cadfael’s Penance, Ellis Peters, p143

Do you know of the sortes, the sortes sanctorum? I bet you do. It dates even earlier than Brother Cadfael’s medieval days. It’s when one opens the Bible at random, lays a finger on the page, and takes the verses beneath as an omen or answer to the question or concern in the asker’s heart. A casting of lots using the pages of Scripture; a Magic-8 Ball before there were plastics.

In earlier times we know that people leaned toward magical explanations absent other ones. I find it amusing, though, that in current times this method is still deployed–by those that would deplore a Ouija board, no less. Even in those dusty far-off times church councils sternly saw the sortes for what it is: divination. Which our God tells we Christians not to do, per those same thin pages.

I don’t do use the sortes. Not in the strict sense. But how different is my struggle as I work to live my life aware of God’s hand? Is this natural revelation of God’s provision in the little good things that unfold before me in a day? Is it a particular revelation when I listen during worship and am struck to the core by a passage or a sermon’s phrase? Or is this all my magical thinking?

I do believe that serendipity is part of God’s world, and a lack of coincidence part of God’s plan. And I am pretty certain I can see clearly at the ends of this range of experience: what belongs to God’s unfolding, and what is magic’s illusory control.

In the middle, though…. In the middle ground, walking through our mostly-explainable world, where is the edge of honest faith?
Today’s certainly not my day for this knowing. I picked my topic nearly at random out of the pages of a book, after all.

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