As the saying goes, “Serendipity happens”

Serendipity is perhaps one of the most overused words in poetry and everywhere else today. It is considered one of the top 10 most difficult words to translate. However, it heads the list as the choice among many people’s most favorite words and it is one of the most popular names today for a boat.

The origin and etymology of the serendipity is fascinating. The origin of the word is thought to have come from a fairy tale, published in 1557 in Venice, Italy, called “The Three Princes of Serendip.” Serendipity is sometimes thought to have been the ancient name for Sri Lanka, although, that cannot be verified. In the fairy tale, the three princes, who are visiting another country, trace clues to precisely identify a camel they have never seen. In spite of never having seen the camel, they incredibly describe the camel as being lame, blind in one eye, missing a tooth, carrying a pregnant maiden and bearing a load of honey on one side and butter on the other. In the story, the three princes exhibit wisdom and amazing powers of deductive reasoning. This story is the basis of how the word serendipity came to be.

Today, the word is often defined in dictionaries as, “an accidental and happy discovery of something unsought.” That, I believe, is only half of the original definition. What often gets left out is the initial attribution to the necessary wisdom on the seeker’s behalf. The accidental discovery and unsought rewards come later.

In conclusion, let me say that I join all those who have an affinity for the word serendipity, however, it is not my favorite word. My favorite word is “providence.” I can define serendipity a lot easier than I can define providence. What I do know is that providence intersects at the point where our human freedom meets the sovereignty of God, and what passes for serendipity is often really providence.

Michael Hickey is a local writer and poet who lives in Pelican Bay and Swampscott, Mass. His book, “Get Wisdom,” is published by Xlibris Div. Random House Publishing and is available at 1-888-795-4274 Ext. 822, at, or your local bookstore. E-mail Mike Hickey at

Providence DisguisedD

By Michael Hickey


E-xpecting the unexpected;

R-elying on simple faith to

E-ncounter the mystery of life;

N-ot knowing,but accidentally

D-iscovering the unknown,

I-n which I receive a

P-leasant surprise.

I- unconsciously uncover,

T-he one not sought;


© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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