Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's Lost

The other night I had a dream that I went into a small thrift shop. After a quick scan of the nearly empty shelves, I turned to leave but was stopped by the quiet voice of an old lady behind the counter. “Don’t you want to take a look through those boxes?” To humor her, I started flipping through a box of old baby clothes when all of a sudden something caught my eye.

On one of the outfits, I recognized a small embroidered patch that was on the baby sleepers I had when my own kids were little. In the dream I held it up to rub on my face and was filled with longing and deep sorrow. The old lady was watching me closely and she said, “It’s like the lost coin. Or the lost son.” I turned my head slowly to look at her face and just before I could see it, the dream ended.

When do we get back that sense of newness and hope that comes with the wistful nostalgia of remembered childhood? As Wordsworth says, “There hath pass’d away a glory from the earth” and we are often left with a kind of permanent low-grade depression at the way things turn out. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at this; after all, Christ himself said “in this world you WILL have trouble.” But expecting suffering makes it no less easy to bear. Nor does some far-off sense that “one day” the story turns out for good.

So what do we have in the meantime? The hope that in the least likely place, we might be surprised by something lost but still loved; that there is some part of us able to be new again with a child’s unfettered hopes; that in the faces we are often too busy to see we might find gentleness and hear words of grace that will keep us going for one more go through the boxes.