Serendipity on Highway 183

Mar 28, 2014

Serendipity- The full moon setting in the west, while the sun rises in the east.
Serendipity- The full moon setting in the west, while the sun rises in the east.
Credit justmakethecoffee.com

Some words stick in the mind, and serendipity is one those memorable terms rattling around in my cranium. In college, I hung out at a retreat called Serendipity House. I’d never heard the expression before, so after my first visit, I hit the dictionary.

Imagine learning this fun-to-say term meant happy accident or pleasant surprise. That definition fit the old two-story home that served as meeting place and comfort zone for on-the-cusp-of-adulthood young people. Since that time, other unexpected pleasures have made me smile and recall that melodious word and the warm feelings attached to it.

Recently, I lucked into one of those unanticipated bits of fortune that show me how blessed I am to call this prairie home. My unforeseen benediction required a sequence of events to fall into place. Once they did, I recognized I’d encountered a mini-miracle.

There are big miracles that no one can miss, and there are tiny wonders that happen every day that we may or may not recognize. Fortunately, this one snapped me like a full-stretched rubber band so I knew I’d experienced something special.

My happy adventure began in the wee hours before dawn. My husband and I awoke dark-early to drive to the Platte River so I could crane watch. He knows I love seeing tens of thousands of my favorite birds staging along its shallow waters, so he humors me with these spring junkets. It doesn’t hurt that a nearby Cabela’s is a great place to warm up after some frigid bird watching.

When we hit Highway 9 in the deepest shadows of pre-dawn, I noted the full moon that had peeked into my bedroom window the night before had journeyed from East to West, where it hovered like a big ol’ communion wafer. By the time we reached the bridge over Harlan County Reservoir in Nebraska, pale rose and lavender fingers infused the eastern horizon, but the only star-spiked black outlined that buttery globe in the West.

Somehow, I got so busy watching dawn break that I forgot to keep an eye on that sinking disc. North of Holdrege, Nebraska, sunrise exploded over the horizon. When I thought to look West, instead of the retina-blasting glow in the East, pale blue silhouetted the fading ball that was only a whisper of its earlier brilliance.

That particular section of Highway 183 permitted a clear view to the East and to the West so that I could see almost the exact moment that sun and moon were directly across from one another like round ends of dumbbells. If I’d been home, I’d have missed seeing this alignment of two perfect orbs because of interfering rooftops and a slight rise west of our house. 

In this serendipitous flash, every sense tuned into the cycles of light and dark that drive human existence. The imaginative side of me considered that for an instant, my husband and I swung in a prairie hammock whose ends connected to both sun and moon.

While I expected the exciting part of our quest to be skies and cornfields filled with thousands of sandhill cranes, that part of the day was just the cherry topping a hot fudge sundae. The instant of discovering me suspended between rising sun and sinking full moon will trigger thousands of future smiles and the joyous repetition of one of my favorite words--serendipity.