Sunday, May 6, 2012

2012.05.06 Loss

I lose things a lot, not just my way on the road but things I value. Its annoying. And sometimes as I age I don’t even know I’ve lost something.

Like the time I was driving home from a retreat weekend in CT. and stopped to lose my pee in a rest stop near Attleboro, MA. The civilized in-house was “closed for renovations.”  Three noble portable out-houses stood by to accommodate.

A woman coming out of one of them made a face and commented to me “Pretty bad in there.” 

I didn’t need the review. I knew. But when you have to go, you have to go. (For once I was grateful for my diminished sense of smell.)

I drove the rest of the way home to Cambridge. As I came in the phone was ringing. It was my husband asking if I had my bag. “Sure,” I said. “No, you don’t,” he said. “Alex has it.”

I’d left my bag on the floor in the outhouse; Alex had retrieved it, called my daughter (the last call on my cell phone,) and she had called my husband asking, “Where’s Mom?” Alex, who spoke with a heavy accent, lived in Brookline, only a short drive, and he had my bag intact.

Driving to Brookline I imagined Alex, whose accent I’d identified as Russian,  as a dashing diplomat or maybe a rugged writer. The man who stood on the street as we drove up to the address had a cigarette butt hanging out of one side of his mouth and scraggly long blond hair.  I knew this wasn’t Alex.

“You Leen?” the man said.

I nodded.  “Yah, he said. I recognize you by your por-tray-t.” 

Alex led us upstairs to his apartment where he presented my bag and insisted I take accounting of everything in it. It was all there, even the cash. I offered him some cash which he refused with a toss of his head while he was holding back a large barking dog, Russian wolf hound type.

“No worry, “said Alex,” “He bark, no bite.” 

As we left Alex shared his first grin, “No worry. My wife she leave her wallet all over town all the time.”  His wife, who it seemed didn’t speak much English, stood by nodding and smiling assent.
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Earlier that same weekend as Alex the good Russian,  I lost, for the third time, one of my  tiny diamond earrings.  The tiny earring AND its backing were on the floor of the shower at the retreat house. (The first time I’d retrieved both in the trap of the sink; the second time I found one glimmering among the dust kitties under the dresser.) Real diamonds—not shiny fakes.  I’d said a prayer each time, just in case, and thought of the woman in the Bible story who searched diligently for one lousy little coin until she found it. A parable of divine love.

I don’t think God finds things things for careless fools like me. I pray because I talk to God. And maybe that connection soothes my anxiety and helps me focus my attention. Loss happens when I’m distracted. 

That I find things or that honest people like Alex exist in the world are lovely accessories. They matter and fill me with gratitude, but what really matters most to me is this spiritual gleaning:  Nothing is ever lost in God’s economy—and no one is a loser.