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Seeds of something fine

Lost and found

Staff writer

I believe I have mentioned in this column before my theory about things in life you just don’t ignore. Most of the things on my list have to do with being genuinely surprised by something that wells up within oneself.

I’ve had a phrase bumping around in my head for a couple weeks, almost without me noticing. Like I said, I’m a believer that these little surprises are actually weightier than they may at first appear — perhaps they are guideposts along our spiritual path or our connection to the divine. In my life they have always been things that teach me something about myself, my deeper self.

When I finally stopped long enough to hear the words, I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t readily recall their source (a book I read once a year) but it’s a phrase I have held tightly to for so many years it’s probably etched itself into my gray matter: “What’s lost is nothing to what’s found.”

It’s from the novel “Godric” by Frederick Buechner. If you haven’t read it I think you should. I’ve got a copy with your name on it.

This particular phrase, I think, speaks of promise. Of reason to hope. It points toward a greater good than we can imagine for ourselves, based only on what good we now know. It implies a reason, maybe, to believe that losing or a sense of loss is not the final word in our story, even though it sure feels like it sometimes when it first hits.

As I let the phrase come into focus in my mind, I was driving along in silence, which is actually pretty rare. Usually a little person in my charge is hollering or singing in the back seat.

The words were still on my mind Friday as I wrestled Lyla into the car, screaming, trying to get her to my parents’ for the weekend. We have a strict policy about not announcing we are heading to Mimi’s until we’re 5 minutes away. Trust me, a lot of suffering is prevented this way.

My parents had received 9 inches of snow the day before, which we also couldn’t tell her, but we knew it would mean a weekend like Lyla has never seen — snowmen, snow forts, sleds— things she could not possibly imagine as we’ve not experienced those things with her yet. We couldn’t tell her, because those words wouldn’t have made sense. All she knew as we loaded the car was that she was desperately upset we couldn’t bring her jewelry.

I hoped, as we drove away from her beloved “bwa-cets,” my decision as a parent was a compassionate one. When we picked her up Sunday oh! the stories we heard and the glee we saw on her face in pictures. But in the moments as we left Marion Friday I sure had my doubts.

I think this is a lot like what we go through as adults sometimes when we experience a particularly heavy loss. All we can imagine is based on what we’ve seen or heard of, and often a loss feels like it’s greater than the greatest good we can imagine.

It’s hard for me to believe, in times of big loss, that what I have lost will seem like nothing compared to what I will find as I keep going. When I experience loss, I can look a lot like my toddler did Friday, or at least my heart can. It kicks and screams and wretches with pain it doesn’t think it can bear.

I don’t know for sure yet, but I think my brain is trying to remind me there’s reason to believe that good I cannot conceive is just beyond the horizon for me. That actually I’m just beginning a journey toward more reasons for glee than I can imagine and if somebody tried to explain it to me the words wouldn’t make sense.

That in time I’ll look back and see it was just a short distance to a time filled with good unlike I’ve ever known.

Last modified Jan. 27, 2011

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