Sometimes typos are just typos. A misplaced keystroke here or there, a garbled word, nothing more. Sometimes they are hilarious. They can be Freudian; unfortunate; tragic, even.
And sometimes they are profound.
If you’ve ever participated in a brand loyalty or rewards program, or if you’ve ever, in your lifetime, ordered just one item from Amazon, you’ve likely been asked at some point to give your opinion about what you bought or where you purchased it either by completing a survey or offering a review.
I got an email survey last week asking where I shopped for certain products, how I shopped for them, (online or in-store), and why I chose to shop in those particular stores for those particular products. As is the case with any public opinion survey, there were several questions geared specifically toward identifying the demographic details of the those being surveyed, one of which was marital status. All the usual suspects were there: single, single-never married, married, divorced, in a domestic partnership, but instead of “widowed”, the survey read “windowed”. I’ve been captivated by that typo ever since.
I’m a “word person”; I’ve always loved reading and writing and one of my favorite Sunday afternoon pastimes is doing the crosswords in both the local papers and the New York Times, so I would have noticed it anyway, but at the moment I’m also working my way through a dedicated writing project/course* (beyond and in addition to blogging every Friday). The current six-week module has me making a writing plan each week and then actually sitting down and writing, so I’m paying even more attention to words than I normally would. And because of that, my engagement with that word “windowed” turned out to be more than just noting the typo. This was one of those cases where the word literally jumped off the page and grabbed me, and I’ve been thinking about it and how it applies to me and my particular life circumstances ever since.
While I never would have chosen it and still wish, a million times over, that it had never happened to me (especially as early as it did…) I have to admit that the drastic change in my existence being widowed brought about has opened windows into my life (and the lives of others) that would not have become part of my experience any other way. I see things I never would have noticed before. I’m doing things I would never do were Bill still here. I would not be writing this blog, or be involved in the writing project I’m working on. Were he still physically present and sharing daily life with me, with his “it’s-the-adventure-of-the-thing” mindset, I am convinced we would have been so busy going places and so deeply engaged in the next “new” thing (whatever it was) I would never have had (or taken) the time to write. It just wouldn’t have happened.
Something else happened instead, and here I am. Don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying losing Bill and being widowed is good. It’s not. I hate it, and pretty much everything about it. But even in that considerably less than perfect circumstance that I would never have chosen had it been up to me, there are still good things, amazing things, beautiful things in my life, and this is one of them. I’ve discovered grand opportunity in misfortune’s clothing. The grace and blessing of the Holy is still present.
What about you? Have you been “windowed”? As you think back over some of the painful misfortunes of your life are you able to see good in the aftermath that you might not have found otherwise?
What does that good look like? A change in attitude? In circumstances? Deeper faith and trust? A more generous or flexible mindset? A keener appreciation for things like connection and beauty? More intention in your relationships? New levels of freedom and creativity?
If you haven’t seen it (yet), can you envision finding good at some point in the future? What form would it take?
“…The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul…” Psalm 23:1-3a, NRSV
*If you’ve always loved or wanted to write and are wondering if there might be a book growing inside of you, contact Christianne at https://www.bookwifery.com/ and she can help you discern whether writing a book is part of your future and if it is, can provide you with everything you need to know in order to pursue that.