Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lost (and Found)

A few months ago my mother-in-law gave Joey a Cub Scout pocket knife that was very special. It had belonged to her oldest son, Jay's late brother, when he was Joey's age.

Joey, who is also a Cub Scout, loves this knife. He carries it all over. He sharpens it whenever we let him. He uses it, more or less responsibly (for an 8 year old), for his projects and play.

Yesterday we went up into the nearby mountains for a picnic to celebrate my mother's birthday. We hiked a little off the road to a picnic spot and spread a blanket out. The kids ran around for about an hour while we ate and slapped bugs. Naturally, Joey brought his knife and used it to cut fallen branches and leaves.

As we were returning to the car (and quickly because some of the kids were experiencing an urgent need to visit the bathroom which was down the road a bit), Joey noticed that he didn't have his knife. A search team went back and scoured the area but to no avail. He was nearly hysterical, but there was nothing I could do. We had to go.

We returned home and reported the loss to Jay, who was deeply saddened to have lost the only thing we have that belonged to his brother. I explained that the area the kids were running through had a thick layer of pine needles and branch debris and was about half an acre in size. Even if we had gone back and searched for an hour I don't believe we would have found it. But I knew that I should have returned after the bathroom stop to search, no matter how hopeless I thought it was.

So, we found ourselves back on the road to the mountain today in an effort to find the lost knife. I was sure it was pointless, but I had to do everything I could for both Jay and Joey. On the way we said a prayer to Saint Anthony (Patron Saint of lost things, of course!) and hoped for the best.

An hour later, as I marched through the pine needles once again swatting at the persistent bugs who were quite happy to see that I had returned, I was discouraged. Joey couldn't remember where he had last had it, what he had last done with it or anything else that could have narrowed the search in any way. So up and down I traipsed, squinting at the ground, lifting logs and branches I knew they had played with the day before, and feeling the entire time like it was a complete waste. It was the proverbial "needle in the haystack" search.

Then, all of a sudden, I felt God right there with me in the most powerful way. I stopped and prayed, "God, you can do anything. If this is your will, please do this." And I knew in that instant, because I believed with all of my heart, that we would find the knife. I wasn't even sure it was on the mountain, because Joey's updated story had me wondering if he hadn't actually left it in his pocket and it was really rattling around in my dryer at that exact moment. But, I knew we would find it somehow.

Another deep search of the area turned up nothing, so I turned to head up the hill and return the car, sure that we would find it at home safe and sound. I missed the path and took a steeper way, which I instantly regretted, as I slid in my inappropriate sandals. I struggled up the hill, watching my feet so I wouldn't take a misstep, and what do you know? In the most out of the way, unlikely place, I stepped on a pile of pine needles which moved under the weight of my foot and uncovered the knife an eighth of an inch from my shoe. If I had stepped with my right foot instead of my left or been one inch to the right or left, I would never have found it, because it was buried. Wow.

I hope Joey never forgets our prayer to Saint Anthony and his subsequent intercession. I know I never will. My faith was strengthened in a powerful way today.

Meanwhile, I have ordered Joey a new knife, exactly alike, from eBay. That will be his knife to use and carry, and we will keep the real one safe and sound from now on.


nutmeg said...


Further proof that God does care about those things that matter to us, and He loves to show us how He cares for us. What a great story!

Michelle said...

And isn't St. Anthony great? He's my buddy. He helps me all the time and never chastizes me for being careless or forgetful.

Sometimes I find things before I even know they're missing, and I always thank him for helping me out.

I'm so glad you found the knife. I like stories with happy endings.

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

It's funny to me to think we have a patron saint of lost things since we aren't supposed to attach importance to material things. Yet, God knows our nature and has provided for even this weakness of ours. Amazing!

Laura said...

I shared this story with my 8- year old son. He said St. Anthony should be the patron saint of pocket knives! St. Anthony has helped my boys twice to find pocket knives that I felt for sure we would never see again. I'm talking lost for weeks, buried under snow, no chance of finding them. Once my son found it the instant we finished a prayer to St. Anthony even though six of us had just walked over the same spot and had not managed to kick up that final bit of snow that was on top of it.

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Laura, I just read your comment to Joey. Thanks so much for sharing this so I could reinforce this incredible experience.