31 October 2019, The Tablet

The roots of God-incidence: one writer's true tales of the unlikely and unexpected

'Wake, butterfly – it’s late, we’ve miles to go together.'
Photo by Ana Martinuzzi on Unsplash


Poet and novelist Kevin Whelan has been dogged by coincidence. But does it really exist or is it God’s way of getting deep down and personal?

For the last 18 years I have been recording every coincidence that has happened to me, writing each one up in a small, hardcover notebook. I keep this notebook on a shelf by my desk. A few weeks ago I started on Volume 8.
Every coincidence has its own number. To date, I have compiled 766. Each is a little story of about 60 to 70 words in length: that’s approximately 50,000 words in total. It amounts to a record of a regularly puzzling, even humbling feature of my life, a kind of mystical epic.

Here is a selection from my notebooks:

I spent my childhood near Burford in the Cotswolds. About midway down the hill into the town, on the left, was a charming little bookshop. I hadn’t been back in years. Stepping through the door, I idly remove a book from a shelf. Opening it at random I find myself staring in disbelief at my surname, not particularly common even in its country of origin, Ireland.

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