Wednesday, February 10, 2010


(photo credit

Some days all the pieces line up and all the seemingly unconnected bits of life fall into place. Carl Jung called it "synchronicity," when unrelated events become connected not by the usual bonds of cause and effect but by a common thread of meaning. As I recall, he took it as a sign of the deep wholeness of things that underlies the fragments we normally perceive.

One of those mysterious alignments happened in my life this week. I always enjoy the feeling that logic and reason aren't the only forces at work, so I was particularly pleased to recognize my own little bit of magic.

A colleague and friend at work is struggling with a major, life-changing decision about the next step in her career. The choices are mutually exclusive, and both are dear to her heart. Both relate strongly to her life's work, work that she has been committed to for many years. Both involve leadership in an organization that is at a crossroads. Both will involve difficult times ahead, although one choice is clearly the more difficult one: in unfamiliar territory, her gifts will be thoroughly challenged and tested, and she will need courage as well as skill. Both involve disappointing people who count on her, if she chooses the other path. And both include the possibility that if she doesn't do this work, it simply won't get done.

Her decision has been weighing on her, and she's been hoping for a sign that would show her which option is the right one, or at least the best one. She opened her heart to me last week about this, and I have also been carrying a small share of her burden.

Meanwhile, life goes on and we were joking in e-mail that while she is out of town later this month, we "mice" who are left in the office will be planning some parties. Which of course makes her the "cat" in our little scenario.

And then, quite by accident, I discovered this sonnet by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

On a Night of Snow
Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet -
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.
Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes' green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar -
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!

So of course I had to send it to her.

Is this the sign she was waiting for?

Who can tell?


  1. Beautiful post, beautiful sonnet. I love when others are impressed to send me things, and always take them as signs. I hope this particular piece is of help to your friend.

  2. I don't know, but it's a lovely sonnet.

  3. Sometimes words and people come into our lives just when we need them. Sometimes we recognize it, sometimes we do not. Perhaps this one was for a purpose?

  4. I've loved that sonnet for a long time. Thanks for the post! Hope it helps your buddy.


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