Last week, I received an email from Bernard Beitman, a visiting professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia who is writing a book on coincidences/synchronicities. He’s working on a chapter on “idea coincidences.” Here’s what he wrote in his book:
Some idea coincidences can be remarkable useful. We offered this statement to our research participants:
“In a desperate search for information, the information amazingly shows up.”
Eighteen percent said “often.” Less rarely than songs or unimportant ideas , intense focus on a specific need for information aids that information to show up in an “amazing”, unexpected way.”
Libraries provide excellent opportunities for much needed information to suddenly show up. The experience became common enough for author Arthur Koestler to name this coincidence category the library angel.
Sometimes the needed book falls off the shelf onto the floor or even into the seeker’s hands. Other times non-systematic searching yields results where systematic searching had failed. Koester quoted a report by Dame Rebecca West while checking up on a certain episode in the Nuremberg Nazi war crimes trials. To her dismay she found that the abstracts of the proceedings had been catalogued under arbitrary headings in multiple volumes stored on many shelves. After searching for hours she asked a librarian for help. As she did, she put her hand on one volume, took it out and carelessly opened it. She had found the right page. (Koestler, et al The Challenges of Chance, p. 162)”
The Internet, this huge storehouse of information, this library on steroids, provides increasingly more opportunities for library angels to perform their tricks.
Then Bernard asked if I had any good stories about the library angel and the Internet.
This happens to me so frequently with the Internet that I take it for granted. I can’t think of specific incidents, but I do recall a bookstore angel event that resonated for a number of years. Borders Books, back in the 1990s:
I was browsing the new age section, looking for something different to read. This was a dark period for me. We had just put my mother in an Alzheimer’s facility and my dad, who had Parkinson’s, had moved in with us. We also had a young daughter, worked out of our home, and felt pretty frazzled. At any rate, the perfect book literally fell at my feet - Carol Bowman’s Children’s Past Lives.
The book, which I read in a couple of days, was fantastic and I contacted Carol afterward. We subsequently became friends and I recommended her to my agent for her next book, Return from Heaven. The following year, we met in her hometown. By then, my dad read her book, too. He was never a believer in reincarnation and had no religious or spiritual beliefs about the continuation of the soul. He was impressed with her book and I think that’s when his worldview/belief system about the continuation of life began to change.
Skip ahead to 2005. My dad, now nearly 93, confined to a wheelchair, was in an assisted living facility in Georgia, where my sister was head of nursing. I had gone to visit him and had a DVD Carol sent me on the James Leinenger case, probably the most convincing case for reincarnation in the Western world. Carol had been on 20/20 with the Leinengers and they talked about the young boy’s fascination with airplanes, his knowledge of WWII planes, and his possible past life as a WWII pilot.
At the end of it, tears rolled down my dad’s cheeks. “That’s the most convincing thing I’ve ever heard about reincarnation.”
We talked about the Leinenger case for awhile afterward and I told him about my own past life memories – Edinburgh, Ecuador, Bolivia, various dreams and experiences I’d had that convinced me we live many lives. I explained that within five minutes of meeting Rob, I knew we would be married, that we’d been together many times before. It was one of those deep and thought-provoking discussions you have with a loved one that remains vivid in memory, a turning point for both of you.
Three or four months later, he passed on. I think the Leinenger story helped him to release his hold on life. And it all started with that library angel at Borders Books. If Carol;s book hadn’t fallen at my feet, I would not have had that DVD to share with him. It made the difference for him.
Bernard is looking for other library angel stories for his book. Anyone have one they would like to contribute?