"Many plans are in a man's mind, but it is the Lord's purpose for him that will be carried out." Proverbs 19:21 AMP
Did you know this word—serendipity—is one of the top 10 MOST difficult English words to translate? Understanding its meaning is perhaps as illusive as the meaning itself. Research will produce definitions such as “happy accident,” or “luck, chance, coincidence,” or “the phenomenon of finding unexpected valuable things while you were looking for something else.” But my favorite definition comes from a blog post by Gower D. Talley, “Serendipity is having your efforts produce more than you expect—but your efforts ARE required. Serendipity is divine leverage.” Contemplate that a bit as this image’s story unfolds.
On this beautiful spring evening, we scouted locations for sunset photos along the Hermit Road in Grand Canyon National Park. The Hermit Road is a south rim, shuttle only road that runs from the Bright Angel Trailhead to Hermit’s Rest. You can find gorgeous overlooks of the Canyon and the Colorado River along this road.
As we investigated Maricopa Point, the view framed by this snarled old tree just cried out, “please photograph me.” I captured a few compositions then walked further out the overlook, then came back to this somewhat hidden view, took a few more photos, then walked away again, then returned, took a few photos, and on and on. The view just kept calling, but none of my compositions seemed appealing. So, finally, I stopped trying. I stood still and simply soaked in the view—the seemingly never ending wave after wave of formations; the contrast of reds, greens, oranges and blues; the string of clouds across the horizon billowing like sheets on a clothesline—all immersed me in God’s creation humbled with awe and respect for the grandest of canyons.
And then, my visitor, who was completely invisible seconds before, came into view. Paying no attention to me, this little deer daintily stepped along the steep cliff tasting morsels of tender green leaves. I stopped breathing and slowly raised my camera. Fortunately my camera had all the correct settings (remember, Serendipity requires effort). The little deer raised her head and looked at me inquisitively, with a slight twist of her neck—just like we humans do when we aren’t quite sure about something. Click, click, click, click and there was the composition I was “called” to make. She ambled further into the scene and then disappeared over the edge down the steep cliff.
Was it luck, chance, coincidence? Or, perhaps it truly was just part of God’s plan. Sometimes when we relax into the moment and allow our senses to become unburdened of expectations, God graces us with wonderful handcrafted surprises. Maybe that’s the definition of Serendipity!