The God of Found Things
The God of Found Things
I always thought there was a god of lost things, who mischieviously nibbled on socks and hid pens behind desks and threw grocery and to-do lists in the neighbors' yard. Soon the god wasn't satisfied with unimportant things and moved onto wedding rings, black and white photographs and first baby shoes. Finally, he devoured old friendships, happy memories, senses of humor, faith, ourselves, our way.
Now I think there is a god of found things, too.
Yesterday, during homeschool, we read poems from Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, and a letter dropped onto the floor, as if from the sky. I hadn't noticed this letter when I flipped through the book earlier, looking for a poem about nose picking. In fact, I hadn't noticed the note in the 21 years I owned the book.
The letter was dated 12-25-85 and said:
Dear Pat & Rich, Luke, Bridget, Josh:
We enjoyed Christmas Eve Mass and supper and Christmas morning breakfast with you and the blessing from Fr. Caruso.
The good will, good works letters from Luke, Bridget and Joshua are perfect Christmas presents.
And I will enjoy the turnips, oysters and buttermilk to the last bite and drop.
While on the one hand we are glad that Christmas comes only once a year, on the other hand today proved again it is the best day of the year.
Hap and Deadwood.
It is in my Granddad's (whose nickname was Deadwood and who died a few years ago) handwriting, only more legible.
How did it get there?
Once, when we were in Boston, my mother-in-law found a videotape in her room of a Christmas past. Her brother, who died years ago, was in the video, and his girls, now in their teens, were little kids toddling around. We watched it on Christmas and wondered then, too, how the video happened to show up in her room.
That can't be coincidence.
My belief in the supernatural Lost and Found came early. When I was little, we prayed to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.
Try it sometime:
St. Anthony. St. Anthony. Please come around.
Something is lost and can't be found.
One day, walking home from school, I lost a pinkie ring with two light blue rhinestones on it. It was a dimestore ring, tarnished and bent out of shape, but my brother had found it on the sidewalk a few months earlier and gave it to me. Like all siblings, we fought a lot, and the ring was like a truce.
So I was walking and crying dramatically and this girl in my brother's class, Amy, came over and put her arm around me. She asked what was wrong and I told her. Was it expensive? she asked. No, I sobbed. Well, that was it. She knew that if I was crying over a cheap ring, it had to be found on the double. I think we said a prayer to St. Anthony together, although that could be my poetic memory acting up. Amy showed me how to retrace my steps, and after walking half a block, we saw it sparkling on the middle of the sidewalk--at a place I thought I looked earlier.
I remember thinking then that what Amy did was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me. And with umpteen aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, people were always doing nice things for me.
That ring was always getting lost. I resorted to keeping it tucked away in a clown music box, and it still would go missing. To this day, that ring comes and goes as it pleases. One day it's in my jewelry box, the next day it's gone. Come to think of it, maybe I share it with the original owner, the one who dropped it on the sidewalk the day Luke picked it up. And the God of found things shuffles it back and forth between us.
Maybe the god of lost things and the god of found things is one guy. He's like Robinhood, robbing from the neglectful and carefree, and giving to the yearning and heartbroken. He lifts a five dollar bill off a dresser of someone on a good luck streak and drops it in the pocket of a guy who can't even afford a 99 cent Quik Trip chimichunga. Steals a wedding ring from a woman whose husband sleeps beside her and gives it to a woman who had the same kind of ring but lost it, and lost her husband, too.
And sometimes, this god robs things from us only to give them back later. Granddad's letter might have meant little while he was alive. It was, afterall, just a thank you note. But now that he is gone, it falls like manna from heaven. The boys listened quietly as I read it. And now I'll tuck it away in the drawer that holds the first stories the boys wrote and the caps they wore on the nights they were born.
The letter says Christmas is the best day of the year because it only comes once a year.
Likewise, found things are so precious only because we lost them in the first place. And the god of lost and found things knows that. As we lose friends and beliefs and little parts of ourselves, he looks under couch cushions and behind desks on our behalf and wants to scream, "You need to keep better track of things!" But he doesn't because he knows what it's like to lose something. He loses and finds his people on a daily basis.