An unexpected reminder of resurrection on a recent walk
In the last few years, a certain uncommon word has become a common part my vocabulary.
"Godwinks" are those serendipitous occurrences we often refer to as coincidences.
As my friend SQuire Rushnell likes to say, Godwinks are random events that serve as divine signposts helping us successfully navigate our career, relationships, and interests."
Furthermore, SQuire, who coined the term some 20 years ago, goes on to say: "By recognizing the 'Godwinks,' our Creator has placed in our paths, we can understand -- and embrace -- the journey God has laid out for us."
I had a "Godwink" a few weeks ago while walking through a nature preserve in our community. But before I explain, let me provide a backdrop to my "wink."
Pioneer Park, near to where I live, is a beautiful, forested expanse with several trails from which to choose.
During COVID, I noticed plastic toys and miniature animals adorning random tree trunks and overgrown stumps on one of the trails.
Upon investigation, I discovered parents were helping their children in our neighborhood combat the boredom of lockdown by creating treasure hunts in the woods.
Moms and dads would hide a menagerie of small superheroes, Disney characters and toy animals in unexpected places.
Then kids would do their best to try and discover the hidden treasure. It was kind of like an Easter egg hunt but without Easter eggs and not just in the spring.
For the two years of the pandemic young families in our end of town have delighted in this new version of hide-and-seek.
And now that restrictions are lifting, this two-step dance of discovery continues.
Parents are still planting the booty and little ones keep searching for hidden treasure. I can't help but spot these tiny colorful objects adorning the branches and bushes as I exercise.
Now back to my recent Godwink.
On an early morning walk in February, I admired a massive fir tree towering over the trail.
Upon closer examination, I noticed a little head poking out of the hollow in the trunk a third of the way up the giant tree. It was a plastic lion. And the sight of that little beast warmed my heart. It spoke to me of God's presence. It was a picture of hope.
I'm fairly certain that most walkers in my nearby woods did not notice the miniature mane five feet in the air. I'm also pretty sure that of those who did see it, few if any made the connection that I did.
Unless, of course, they were familiar with C.S. Lewis' classic children's story "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
In that timeless tale, the hero of the adventure is a lion named Aslan. This Christ-like figure reigns over the peaceful kingdom of Narnia, befriending the children and animals who live there. They see him as their protector.
While they know that Aslan is good, they also recognize that he is not necessarily safe. Sometimes his actions surprise them.
But the lion always acts for the well-being of those who acknowledge his rule.
When an evil power attempts to invade Narnia, Aslan loses his life in an act of self-sacrifice.
The children are grief-struck as they surround a stone table where Aslan breathed his last. They fear what will happen to them and Narnia now that the White Witch has defeated their friend.
But then, without notice, Aslan appears to them in the forest. He assures them that he has defeated death and with it his enemy.
As I stared at that little lion in the tree trunk, the hollow looked like the mouth of an open tomb. It was amazing. There before my unexpecting eyes was a picture of what Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday.
Seeing the tiny toy lion in an opening in that tree trunk reminded me that death does not have the final word in life.
It also called to mind that the Living One is present everywhere and at all times throughout the year.
That God can be found winking in our direction when we least expect it.
• The Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former Naperville resident who writes about faith and family.