Friday, September 02, 2022

Finding Lost Things and Other Talents

A few weeks.ago or so , I went to my favorite beach with the kids. We had a morning to kill before heading off-island in the afternoon to run some errands. (I still marvel from time to time that I live in a place where it's so easy to pop off to the beach for an hour or two and not have it be a Whole Ordeal).

The kids immediately wandered off (mostly to dig in the muddy low tide sand) while I set about to my favorite activity (pictured here). Sea glass, sea pottery - all sorts of treasures - wash up regularly on this beach.

Eventually my meanderings took me over to a section of a beach where a friend and her family, along with an islander armed with a metal detector, were combing a particular section of sand and seaweed. A men's wedding ring had been lost the night before, and what had been thought to have been safely tucked away  in a shoe, turned out not to have been the case. A Facebook plea to the community had turned up some help with the search. (One of the folks looking for the lost ring gave me the lovely floral sea pottery piece that I'm holding near the tips of my fingers; it looks like it had once belonged to a teacup).

As I continued my own wanderings (eyes sharpened to keep watch for a white gold metal band), I immediately thought of the Parable of the Lost Coin, where a woman turns her house inside out to find one of her lost silver coins, and when it is found, invites her community to rejoice with her.

It led me to thinking about how we all have our roles and ways of being as it relates to the unfolding of God's kingdom - like in 1 Corinthians, where Paul talks about planting the seed of the gospel among them and talks about Apollo watering that seed (and the growth coming from God). Toss in this beautiful modern remix of 1 Corinthians 12 from enfleshed and there are so many ways to witness and embody God's hopes and dreams for this world. (Of course, I also thought about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, when Chief Engineer Hemmer tells Uhura what his purpose in life is: it is to fix what is broken. Layers of meaning there.)

Finding what is lost. Fixing what is broken. Planting seeds of hope. Practicing resurrection. Communication across barriers. Nourishing others. How wonderful would it be if we could all distill our purposes down to a short, single phrase? Our purposes get incarnated in a thousand different ways over the course of our lifetimes, and even then, we may find that purpose changing and shifting and intersecting each other.

In my household, I joke that I am the Finder of Things. I have an uncanny ability in recovering That Which Is Needed (be it a treasured stuffie, Ben's winter hat, the One Specific Lego, etc). Granted, this is something that I do for the other people in my house; I can only sometimes find That Which Is Needed For Myself. I have a visual memory and somehow my brain just passively notices and stores all these things so that I can locate the car key or the wallet or the phone when required. When looking for a particular quote in a book, more often than not I remember where on the page it's situated.

A couple months ago, I was talking with my spiritual director, filling him in on bits and pieces of what my life looks like right now and the time of transition I'm in as we look to inhabit our Very Much Still In-Process place on Fire House Road. I shared a bit of the story and how this property held so many special memories for folks on the island and how glad so many folks were that we'd taken it on as a project. I joked that that was kind of our Modus Operandi as a couple - the vocational bent of our shared life has been about bringing dead places back to life. He responded sharing that it wasn't just bringing it back to life, but a resurrected, new life. 

That's what we do in this kingdom life. I know others who are Nourishers, Practicers of Radical Hospitality, Revealers of Beauty, Truth-Tellers, Fishers of People. Each brings their purpose into everything they do; it's just part of who they are, as easy as breathing. It doesn't matter if they are pastoring a congregation, farming the land, restoring and renovating a house, retired, or serving lunches at a school. It's not about what they are paid to do; it's a part of who they are.

The ring, blessedly, was found on the path leading back to the main road. There was much rejoicing (which I got to share in.) Surely prayer made a difference; what also made a difference was the volunteer efforts of one man who used his gifts (and a metal detector) to Find What Was Lost, this bringing joy and relief to a family who needed it in that moment. There was a high degree of confidence in his efforts, as during the search he had shared the stories of all the other items he had found for others who had lost them.

We all have our purposes - our parts to play. What is yours? 

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