My computer crashed last week, and while I was waiting for a man on a white steed to rescue me I decided to tackle a shoebox full of unanswered letters. The oldest I found went back to 2007.
Among the correspondences was one that needs explanation. Many years ago (it must be more than 20, judging by a vague recollection of where I was in the mothering phase) I spoke at a retreat where I met a woman who was a friend of one of the seminary staff I was speaking to. In our first conversation, Andrea told me she had a thing about birthdays and loves to send out cards. She asked when my birthday was.
I was surprised, in December, to get a card from her. And then the next December. And the next. The greetings become more irregular after a while but I did dredge one out of the shoebox dating from 2011, so I reviewed the contents and sent a reply, with an apology, addressing her concerns and sealing the envelope with a prayer. I had written the date at the top of the page: Feb. 23.
On Feb. 27 I was surprised to see a new number in my phone’s text in-box. It was Andrea. We wrote back and forth and she caught me up on her life. At the end of a long explanation of her thoughts on Luke 18, she added, almost like an afterthought: “Did you know it was my birthday when you wrote it?”
I gasped, and then confirmed and made sure she wasn’t pulling my leg. Then I got to thinking that it was very much like the cardinal I saw on my walk this morning (which I always take as a wink from God), and like the rock with the cross on it that my friend Nan found when she was sobbing on the beach in Nova Scotia. I texted Andrea back how cool is was that the birthday bandito herself received a divine birthday wink. And she in turn said it came just when she needed it.