One of my first discussions about religion and Judaism was with Rabbi Vogel of the Chabad House in Wilmington. We were debating the philosophical contradictions between events happening by random coincidence versus planned Divine Providence.

I had mentioned that it was some coincidence that after all these years I came to Delaware to discover my Jewish roots. Immediately, he said, "Shlomo Yakov, nothing is coincidental! Sometimes it takes days, months or even years before we can understand how and why things happen. Sometimes we go through a whole lifetime and never truly understand, but nothing is just coincidence!"

On my spiritual journey, I've had many experiences that I would have previously dismissed as mere coincidence. But as my spiritual view of the world evolved, so did my view of G‑d's effect on my life.

One such incident occurred after spending a special Shabbat at the Bar Mitzvah of the Rabbi's son, Levy Yitzchak Vogel. Family and friends from around the world came to celebrate the occasion with energetic services, delicious food, Torah words, stories, dancing and singing. Such a beautiful experience charges the soul and makes one proud and thankful to be a Jew.

It dawned on me that I wouldn't make it home in time! I'd have to pray in the airport!I remember listening to the stories and wondering to myself, "These are inspirational stories, but I haven't personally experienced a miracle in my life."

I now realize that it depends on how you define a miracle. If you're waiting to see the Delaware River divide or want to find manna on the sidewalk outside each morning, you may have to wait a while. But you should take time to look out your window and wonder at the intricacy of a falling snow flake, or ponder the miracle of a baby's birth, or marvel at the beauty of a flower growing in your back yard. Otherwise, you've missed a miracle unfold before your very eyes.

My return travel schedule to Oregon had me leaving the Vogel Bar Mitzvah Kiddush party before it was over. I said my goodbyes, went back to the hotel, recited the Havdalah and went off to the airport. If all went well, I'd be back in Portland Sunday morning, just in time to recite my morning prayers.

That is, if all went well.

Of course, it didn't! The flight from Philadelphia to Atlanta was as scheduled. But the plane in Atlanta that was supposed to get me home by 9:00 a.m. PST was delayed. As I spent hours in the airport waiting for another flight, it dawned on me that I wouldn't make it home in time for the morning service! I'd have to pray in the airport!

Over the last eighteen months I never missed a day of wearing the tefillin.

Every morning, wherever I was, I secured the tefillin to my arm and my head, said the appropriate blessing and prayed. Six days a week, like clockwork, I donned my tefillin. With the exception of Shabbat and holidays, I faithfully did the mitzvah each day.

However, I did so only in the privacy of my home, hotel room or in a synagogue. I certainly never did so publicly in front of 10,000 strangers walking through the Atlanta airport!

Now I really began to stress out. I could tell you a good story and say I found a place, wore the tefilin and prayed without a care in the world, but that would be a lie. Almost in tears, I apologized to G‑d and admitted that I just couldn't get myself to wear my tallit and tefillin in public.

Ashamed of my lack of conviction, I asked forgiveness.

The morning light began to pour through the airport windows. There didn't appear to be another human being in the "E" terminal that early in the morning. As I walked past gate E7, I beheld a very strange sight. Standing next to the window, facing east, was a short, middle-aged man. Nothing unique about that unless you consider the fact that he was wrapped in a long tallit, was wearing his tefillin and saying his morning prayers!

I couldn't believe it! This wasn't New York or Jerusalem, but Atlanta, Georgia! I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Here I was beating myself up for my lack of courage and suddenly out of nowhere, a Jewish man of conviction and devotion appeared.

I looked around. Guess what! My fellow travelers to Portland didn't pay the slightest attention to my praying brother. He went about his business, just as they went about theirs.

I had to smile and ask myself why I was so embarrassed. Sometimes we need someone else to show an example before we can overcome our own fears.

I suddenly felt empowered. I was ready to pray to G‑d. But just as I began to unzip my tallit bag, the announcement came on: "Flight 427 to Portland ready to board!" This was almost miraculous, because the flight was supposed to have been delayed for another three hours.

I zipped up my tallit bag, took one last look at this figure of inspiration and ran to the gate. I boarded the plane, sank into my seat and jetted off to Portland. The plane touched down at 9:00 a.m. I found my car, drove home and was praying morning services by 10:30 a.m. PST.

Some miracles involve the parting of a Sea of Reeds and manna falling from heaven. Others are as simple as seeing a lone Jew in a distant airport praying, setting an example for a wavering young man who lacked the guts.

With all the billions of human beings in the world, G‑d took a moment out of the day to send Shlomo Yakov Ben Moishe Pinchus an important message.

Coincidence? I think not!