"A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer, which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since."
Carl Jung Resources explains that Dr. Jung developed a treatment for this patient, ". . . this coincidence is not senseless, a simple coincidence. By using the amplification method, Jung associates in connection with the scarab and comes to the concept of death and rebirth from the esoteric philosophy of antiquity, a process that, in a symbolic way, the patient should experience for a renewal and vitalization of her unilateral personality, the cause of the neurosis she was suffering from."
Some are skeptical that coincidences are ever meaningful, and others are ecstatic when events seem to collide with sparks and intrigue. If they aren't meaningful, then so be it. If they are meaningful, what difference does it make?
When my brother Bennett died suddenly in 1996 at the age of 47 of severe arteriosclerosis (all four arteries were blocked), a series of events unfolded in the following weeks and months that could be mere coincidence, but for my family and me, were stunning occasions of conjunction. I want to tell them to you, and I am guessing you want to hear them. I know I have a human curiosity to hear stories that touch on magic and miracle, with a chink of light from beyond the veil of the unknown. The half dozen or so other occasions are eerie and chilling, but I'd like to share two of the quieter, less macabre and dramatic ones, to honor Bennett, who sometimes teased me while he laughed, "Ruthie, I just love how dramatic you are!" Moo, hee? (my mother's exclamation, for Who, me?)
One such moment was when we went to a high school play my nephew was in. The week before the play, a dozen of us were cleaning out my parents' house where Dad had passed away the year before and where Mom no longer lived, having moved to an assisted living home with Alzheimer's. At lunch we calculated that we were going to be one ticket shy of the number needed for our family members attending my nephew's play the following week. Bennett, who went by "Ben" with all his friends, said, I don't need a seat, I'll be video-taping it from the back of the auditorium anyway. That night, in my parents' empty home, Bennett died. Without a lick of furniture to lean on, we mourned and paced and lay on the rose-carpeted floor, in shock. The following weekend, as we sat in the high school auditorium waiting for my nephew's play to start, some sitting, some standing, we were chatting, and I leaned over the as yet unoccupied seat in front of me. I looked down at the dark green cracked leather, worn from decades of student assemblies, and there, scratched in the leather, was I ♥ Ben.
What does it mean? I suppose it doesn't have to mean anything. But because we were heavy with shock and loss, all of our attention was riding close to the asphalt of what happened around us. We saw the connections, which felt as if they were more than the average, and more intense. But really, aren't we always connected to everything? If we were but to pay closer attention, and feel the wonder of the miracles in a blade of grass that stands up straight though it's as light as a feather, and bends when a breeze blows, not breaking, would we be amazed? And a grasshopper. Have you seen how far and how high a grasshopper can jump, and land on that exact stalk of grass that just happens to be in the perfect spot, and hold on? Is that not magic?