According to Edgartown resident SQuire Rushnell, 2014 could be the year of the godwink.
The term, which Mr. Rushnell coined himself, is used to describe “a coincidence that is so astonishing that it must have come from divine origin,” he said. It is also a synonym for “answered prayer.”
Since 2002, Mr. Rushnell has authored seven books on the godwink phenomenon. His books aim to provide messages of hope and encouragement to readers looking for spiritual reassurance in their lives.
“I think of a godwink as a gift that is on everybody’s doorstep and my job is to get people to open the door and open their gift,” Mr. Rushnell said. “And as you start to open the gifts of godwinks, you start realizing that you’re never alone, that there is indeed a greater plan and a greater purpose in your life.”
Mr. Rushnell recently sent off a proposal for his eighth book called Godwink Threads. But he has also been looking past just the written word. Starting in January, the Today Show with Kathy Lee and Hoda began running a monthly feature where they share godwink stories with viewers. According to Mr. Rushnell, the feature is currently one of the most popular on the NBC network. As the former vice president of Good Morning America and children’s and family programming at ABC, Mr. Rushnell has a long history with network television.
Recently, CBS Sunday Morning travelled to his iconic Yellow Cottage in Edgartown to interview him for a profile about godwinks. Mr. Rushnell estimated that the segment will air in the next four to five weeks, or possibly in the fall.
Mr. Rushnell has also been working with American Heritage to incorporate “godwink” into the dictionary. He was told it takes about a decade for a word to get through the process of formally entering a dictionary, but he is optimistic about a much quicker time frame.
“I think this is going to be the year that will happen,” he said.
Mr. Rushnell is also currently in conversations about a potential godwinks television series.
“What I imagine is a one-hour format in which two of the stories would be dramatized with actors. It would be like little mini movies and these 20-minute movies would have a beginning, a middle and an end, and they’d always have a hopeful ending because godwinks always bring a hopeful ending.”
He added that at the end of each anecdote, the actual person who had the godwink would come on screen and give a short comment about how they felt when the godwink happened.
“We’ll see how that all unfolds,” Mr. Rushnell said.
Mr. Rushnell’s interest in godwinks began with his fascination with coincidence.
“When I used to run Good Morning America, I would stand in the back of the control room and every time there was one of those stories that began with one of the reporters saying ‘Ironically, today . . .’ I’d perk up my ears and I’d say ‘I wonder if there’s more to coincidence than just coincidence.’”
After 20 years of working for ABC, Mr. Rushnell began pursuing his childhood dream of being a public speaker. While giving a lecture at the Quaker Hill Church in Pawling, N.Y. on whether coincidence is evidence of grand planning, Mr. Rushnell noticed that his audience was “so engaged they were like children hearing a bedtime story.” Many people even came up to him afterwards and shared their “coincidences” with him.
When he told his literary agent about his inspiration to write a book about coincidence, she prompted him with the question that would define his godwink career.
“What does a coincidence mean?” she asked. “If you want to be an author, you have to help your readers understand what these coincidences mean.”
Mr. Rushnell and his wife, Louise DuArt, had just moved to Martha’s Vineyard at this point, and they spent six months in thoughtful pursuit of that question.
“One day, that little word ‘godwink’ came to my mind,” said Mr. Rushnell. “I saw it as a little g, one word like godsend, godspeed, and I thought, wow, I wonder what that means, godwink. I thought about when we were kids sitting at the big table for the first time and we looked up and we saw somebody across the table looking back at us, maybe it was Mom or Dad or Grandma, and they gave us a little quiet communication.”
Mr. Rushnell paused the conversation to wink before continuing. “We never said ‘What do you mean by that?’ because we knew! It meant, ‘Hey kid, I’m thinking of you right now. Hey kid, I’m proud of you. Hey kid, I’m here to support you.’ And that, I believe, is what a godwink is. It’s a message of reassurance. It’s always a message of comforting reassurance. ‘Hey kid, I’m thinking of you right now.’”
Mr. Rushnell said that after recognizing the idea of godwinks, they became increasingly more obvious to him in his own life. This year he has already had several.
Just last week, Mr. Rushnell and his wife were in California to meet with a television network about godwinks. After the meeting was cancelled unexpectedly, the Rushnells were prepared to travel back home to the Vineyard. On a whim, Mr. Rushnell called one of his friends who was the former president of that network. The friend lives in New York but happened to be coming to California the following day and had some free time. The two talked and Mr. Rushnell received a lot of feedback and information about the television network he was pitching. Then Mr. Rushnell coincidently received a call that his original meeting was back on.
“And when I had that meeting, I was then armed with a lot more information, a lot more guidance than I would have had if I had taken the original date,” he said.
Godwinks can be big or small and can spring up in anybody’s life, according to Mr. Rushnell. All it takes is an open mind, the belief in some higher power and the occasional willingness to reflect on life retrospectively.
“As we look back, we can go to those moments in our lives when we were in transition. And if we go back and look at each one of those crossroads in our lives I believe that you’ll unearth a godwink that was probably there, that probably was a message of encouragement, and we probably just didn’t even notice it.”