God Winks and Blinks

Recently I received a letter and the author shared a story. The person described a series of events and then concluded that the sequence of events was what they might call a “God wink”. Some people might encounter the same sequence of events and see no connection, only random and serendipity at play. And maybe that is all that it is, random.

This is where cultural anthropology might be helpful.

Clifford Geertz is a Anthropologist who argues that anyone studying a culture needs to have a “thick description” of that culture. The thick description gives robust descriptions of behaviors with the hopes that the anthropologist might understand the significance of these behaviors. It was described to me that a thick description is being able to tell the difference between a wink and a blink. The movements are the same, but the meaning is different.

While one person might see someone randomly blinking their eyes, the one who has sat with this culture does not see random blinks, but winks of communication.

Photo by  Conner Ching  on  Unsplash

If I can stretch the metaphor just bit more: It takes a long time to develop a thick description of a culture. You have to sit, listen, observe and watch. It takes years of intentional work to learn a new human culture and even then there is still more to discover.

Maybe the actions of the world or in the relayed story are random blinks, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am only now beginning to discern that God winks.