My daughter and I had a delightful breakfast on the water followed by a perfect walk followed by the shock of the realization that somewhere along the way, I had lost my keys. Our sunny, grateful moods turned quickly, hers to panic and mine to gritty determination to find what was lost.
We retraced steps, scanned grassy spaces, and checked in with possible places the keys may have been turned in. My daughter became more uneasy with every step, and our perfect morning was losing its luster. We did find a baby’s toy giraffe which I found heartening and adorable and potentially a sign that things that are lost are often found, but my daughter was less impressed. (A giraffe is a symbol of increased vision and protection, but I knew to keep these ideas to myself as we went.) Along the way, we met people who were so kind and concerned about us, that it gave me reassurance today not only about my keys but about humanity. One legitimately helpful stranger who overheard me speaking to the guy selling tickets to the Mayflower II stopped me to say she was so sorry this happened, that she believed we would find the keys, and that she would say a little prayer for us. Another gentleman who saw us looking around the park said he would keep his eyes open and he checked in with us a couple of times as our paths crossed. A “heads up” call to my husband to alert him of the possible need of our rescue was met with cheer and good will not only by him, but by his office mates.
How can so much goodness be discounted? If I had to put today’s events into two columns, “good” and “bad”, clearly the breakfast, walk, weather, and company would go in the former, but where to put the lost keys? Receiving so much kindness made the loss of the keys, for me, ultimately, a blessing. We were blessed even more when, as I emerged from yet another shop, my daughter held up the keys in her hands, laughing with joy. She had found them on a rock wall that we had already searched several times, and after I sprinted across the street, we reunited with hugs, laughter, and high fives.
It is true that the lens through which we look at our lives determines our response, and that we can never know what will come out of adversity, big or small, or how the road may ultimately wind and bend to our advantage. It reminds me of the Taoist story, “Maybe”:
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
If we hadn’t ever lost something, we would never have experienced the pure joy of finding it again, or the kindness of people who helped us along the way. I hope I can remember this the next time I meet with some obstacle or challenge; that patience and bigger vision are sometimes all you need, and are the keys to unlocking pretty much everything else. It’s a Taoist, or Buddhist idea, probably, but it’s something this Catholic girl needs desperately to incorporate into daily life. As I move forward, I hope to keep this particular key more accessible and less hidden than it’s been until now.