Yesterday I got home from work and did some quick calculations in my head to decide whether to try to squeeze in a run before a meeting at church at 7:30. Life has been busy though, and I decided not to rush around. Instead I grabbed the dog leash and took Chuck for a walk. That was merciful frankly, because he had not gotten out all day and really, really had to go. Really. Had to go. Good dog, for waiting.
With business finished and picked up, we continued on our little neighborhood loop where we encountered a pair of sweet little children playing in their front yard with their father watching over them. Chuck loves kids and he started pulling on the leash but I held him back to see how everyone would react. Not everyone appreciates an overeager dog, especially little children.
As we approached it was evident what the children were doing; picking up sticks and placing them on a little pile by the curb. Just then the little girl walked over to her father and said, “Daddy, I found these in the grass.” She handed him something and he looked down at her and said, “These are prescription glasses, honey. It’s good you found them because someone must really be missing them.”
I was only a few feet away and recognized the glasses he was holding. “I know this is going to sound weird,” I told him. “But those are my glasses.”
What were the odds? He looked at me funny and handed them over for inspection. The lenses were spotted from rain and a bit muddy, but otherwise the frames and lenses appeared unharmed even though they had been sitting in that yard for over 3 weeks. The family had even mowed that day, and the glasses escaped harm.
I’d lost those glasses just three nights after my wife Linda passed away. It was a blustery cold March evening when I’d rushed out of the house with my pockets full of glasses, contact cases and other things I’d been carrying around during the week. The glasses ha d apparently fallen out when I’d hurriedly bent over to pick up after Chuck that night.
That next day I realized the glasses were gone and I searched the whole house and the car and the sidewalk leading into the house, but no luck. It was a little depressing to lose something so valuable right at that moment.
Accepting that I would not likely find the glasses again, I went about the process of getting quotes on a new pair from a couple optical shops and the price was always between $600 and $800--as expected. Apparently my prescription requires that my lenses be ground from minerals on Mars and manufactured by Santa's Elves or something.They're alway so expensive.
Yet I held off buying the new specs and used an old pair of glasses until my head could clear and it was possible to make a good decision about what to do. I also wanted to find out if our company offers one of those programs with vision discounts. It does.
Suddenly all that turned out to be unnecessary. Getting my glasses back was a little like greeting the prodigal son. "Welcome home, eyeballs! I've missed you so much! Come, let's kill the fatted calf and hold a party!" After the church meeting that night I had a beer instead.
No word on whether the old glasses that had come out of retirement to rescue my dizzy eyes were bitter or sad at being second fiddle again. I'm thinking I'll throw some ordinary lenses in there as an alternate pair. Loyalty deserves respect.
Being genuinely grateful and bit taken aback by the serendipity of arriving on the scene at the exact moment that little girl found my glasses, I thanked the man yesterday and offered him a few dollars to buy the kids ice cream or something.
“Not necessary,” he smiled. “Just bring your dog by now and then.” He pointed to the little girl and said, “She really wants a puppy but it’s not in the cards right now.”
Just as he said that, our dog Chuck flopped down in the grass next to the little girl, chewing on a stick she had offered him. As he's wont to do, he nudged up against her knees and she looked up at her dad with pride. She petted his back and with a smile said, “Nice puppy.” Oh. My. God.
Everything seemed to fit a strange and perfect order. Chuck seemed content. I was grateful for the return of my specs. The man seemed happy to be part of some small miracle in the spring sunshine.
Random? Not really. The odds of walking by with Chuck at the precise moment when that little girl found my glasses was more than coincidental. I’m convinced of that.
There have been many little miracles like that in life, and for years. I choose not to take them for granted. The fact these little miracles continue to happen is a sign to me that while it’s good to grieve for Linda it is also okay to prepare for the life ahead. This might even have been a nudge.
My model in this regard comes from her. Through all her challenges with ovarian cancer, she kept her eye out for little miracles and expressed thanks for those that came along. So do I. Neither of us went in for hookey spookey stuff like The Secret or other commodified spiritual tricks. There's enough miraculous things going on the world without trying to manufacture them out of your own head. Better to pay attention to the practical miracles than to pay $29.95 plus shipping and be disappointed that the meaning of life can't be gleaned from a best-seller.
In other words, I won’t go so far as to say that Linda's spirit handed those glasses to me. But it sure felt like something of that order was going on.
Of course, there’s also a bit of humor to be found in all this. Linda got really disgusted whenever I lost things--and there were more than a few lost items over 28 years of marriage. Car keys. Cell phones. Probably a few forks or spoons thrown away in the trash. I even put her contact lenses in my eyes one morning by mistake and went for a run. Returning home loopy and weirded out, I put her lenses back in the case and told her what I'd done. She shook her head and said, "Serves you right." But I heard her laughing when she told the tale to a friend later on. She forgave me these faults. Thank God.
Over time I’ve become much more disciplined about my habits but things still happen. The glasses are just such an example. Under stress and emotional burden we are all prone to mistakes and errors in judgment. It's human nature.If you studied it close enough, there's a great chance that evolution plays a part in the absent-mindedness of human beings. We either evolve better behaviors or we won't. Those who claim not to believe in evolution simply aren't paying close enough attention to note that subtle changes lead to major shifts in the world. Mountains get pushed up over billions of years. Continents crawl over the surface of the earth. Topography and climates get changed as a result. Creatures are forced to evolve. And just as the principles of erosion that work at the scale of mountains and continents, the same natural forces hold true at the alluvial scale of our backyard garden. It's apparently too slow and subtle for some people to appreciate, but they're missing the real miracles of creation as a result. I truly believe that.
There are spiritual tectonics as well. That's what the Bible covers. And if my wife LInda does happen to be an angel now, trotting around behind to keep me out of trouble, she’s done a pretty good of it.
If neither one of us were that big on angels as a rule, people still gave us angels for the garden and our home. It happened again for me this past week when the Confirmation class at our church gave me an angel bird bath. fI’ve picked out the perfect spot to place it where I’m installing a new water feature in the back yard. The angel will hold still waters for the birds that come to visit. And it won't move much. That thing is heavy. Sometimes it can be easier to move mountains, so to speak, than to move bird baths.
On a practical note, it seems you can only ignore angels so long before they sneak up and bail your ass out of trouble whether you think you need it or not. It’s pretty certain we’ve cashed in a few Angel Benefits these past 8 years and more. So my new lawn decoration will be a reminder that even if you don’t know you’re being watched, sometimes you are.
I am here to propose that a variety of angels may be in operation all around us. For example, I just got a $100 ticket from a Red Light Camera at an intersection in Downers Grove where I work. In the photo that came with the the ticket I think I can see what appears to be an angel seated on the lampost above the camera, pointing at my license plate with what looks like an expression of glee on their face. A joke like that can turn out to be a benefit, especially from an angel. So thank you, angel. That's $100 I won't spend on other mischief. Lesson learned.