Why do I always decide to deep clean the boxes under my bed when it’s humid? I shuffle papers aside, pausing to reread the titles of my academic rambling – The Fractured Definition of Motherhood, Jacques Maritain and the Crisis of Europe, a paper on Reinhold Niebuhr and another still on the theology of knowledge in St. Thomas Aquinas. I stroke their pages now speckled with dust, and add them to the growing pile next to me.
All I really want is to find extra picture frames, books, things to litter on the shelves in my new office at work. I hit repeat on the new Maroon 5 song, feel the sweat slide its way from my hairline down my neck. I’m sore and tired, and my heart is sore and tired, too. As I push the last box back under the bed, another, smaller box falls out. I look at it. It’s the box my poetry teacher gave to me when I saw him three or four Christmases ago, when he was back from his travels. He brought the box to me as a gift, a reminder. I can’t really remember the conversation we had, our lattes getting cold while I felt the edges of the box with the palm of my hand, traced the carvings and the delicate small stone at the top. “Keep something special in here,” he had told me.
I’m trembling, trying to remember what I kept in here. Is this where I put the note from my best friend, the one she hid in between stones in a random archway in Arles, France, that I found a year later using only a piece of Moleskin notebook paper with scribbled directions? Is this where I kept the locket I lost in third grade, and found again when I left elementary school? Is this where I hid my fearless, brave self?
I open the box and the ring winks at me. I scream. It’s the ring my grandmother gave me on my eighteenth birthday. It’s the ring that my grandfather gave her on their fortieth wedding anniversary. It’s my birthstone. “I’ve been saving this one for you, Hilary” she told me four years ago when she pressed it into my hand. “It’s yours.” I slip it back on my finger, feel it glide into place. My skin welcomes it back, this part of me that I had tucked so carefully away.
Sometimes when we try to protect things we lose them.
Sometimes we hide the most precious things when we could wear them.
Sometimes we treat each other like thieves who are only hoping to hurt, instead of like friends who are only hoping to love.
And a worry rises in me sitting on the floor with grandmother’s ring on my finger and the fan humming and Maroon 5 playing. What if when I hide my heart I forget where it is? What if when I try to stay safe, I get lost?
And then I remember: what we hide is also what we rediscover. What is lost is also what is found. And oh, the rejoicing when we find it.
grace, and peace, and love to find again those things which are lost,