“Those who can preserve gentleness amid pains, and peace amid the worry and multitude of affairs, is almost perfect.” — St. Francis de Sales (LR II 25)
Over the course of the last three weeks, in the midst of holiday bustle, I lost two different wallets. The first slipped out of my pocket on December 5, after volunteering at a food shelf, somewhere between Cesar Chavez and Selby Avenues in St. Paul. Gone was the slim green single-fold case along with my driver’s license, credit cards and newly purchased museum membership card. I was bummed! After retracing my steps, saying my St. Anthony prayers and waiting three days, I gave up the search and cancelled everything, going to the DMV to get a duplicate license and my credit union to get a new debit card. I made jokes about the experience being one that “humbled me”, brought me into my own literal and figurative poverty, which invited me to lean further into the miracle and mystery of the Incarnation. (I celebrated that the cards were never used by any “finder”before I cancelled them).
On December 25, twenty days later after I lost the first billfold — and in the midst of celebrating Christ’s birth, I lost the second one. This time my wallet with the replaced credit cards and drivers’ license slipped out of my grasp on a Delta airline flight somewhere between Omaha and the Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport. I did not realize it was gone until the next morning when I went to run errands and discovered the black wallet wasn’t in the big brown bag I had been toting it around in.
The light-hearted attitude I adopted during the first loss, disappeared. This go round, I thought I was losing my mind! I called my parents. I texted my friends. I rang the airline. I filed online claims stating where and when I believed I lost the billfold, with a complete description of it and its contents. I drove to the airport and beseeched every Delta airline employee I met to help me locate the lost item. All to no avail.
I woke at 5am this morning beside myself. Every thought and fear about what might have happened to the wallet came flooding into my busy brain. My heart raced. Not only did I replay the possible scenarios of the item falling out of my possession, I started to think about what this said about me — about my lack of responsibility, and how I don’t take care of things, and maybe that I don’t really deserve to have them. It was a dreadful rabbit hole of debilitating thought, let me tell you!
In the midst of all this mayhem, a few things really struck me: 1) my husband, Francois, inviting me to pray and trust the season we were in the midst of; and 2) the flurry of St. Anthony prayers that were shared with me via social media and text messages; and 3) the presence of Visitation friends Sonja and Fabio, who reminded me of how Francis and Jane might act in the midst of such circumstances: ever gentle and re-assuring, kind in their compassionate acceptance of my frustration and anger.
I’m happy to report that at days end, both of these missing items have been found! (Which is why I believe I can even reflect on this tale in such a fashion.) My husband found the first one in a crevice between the driver’s and passenger’s seats in our Honda, and the second was discovered by some unknowing Delta Airlines employee on the aircraft I traveled on Christmas day.
My questions for you this day:
What have you lost in the course of this busy season? (Literally or figuratively?)
What has shown up in a surprising or gently reassuring manner?
What has given you angst or inspired doubt in your very being?
How do you return to center, to Love, to trust, to the Divine in our midst?
Who accompanies you on your journey this season?
Can you see the Christ child, the holy family alive in your own narrative of woe and wonder?