I don’t know what to make of some of the odd things that happen to us all. I’m thinking of lost items vanishing and turning up again exactly where you’ve looked a dozen times. As if the objects decided to go for a hike, globe-trotting, sight-seeing. Not long ago I lost my favorite set of keys on my Celtic key chain. One moment it was in my hand, and the next it had vanished. I thought the set must be in my apartment (since I had JUST used it to open the apartment door), but no amount of searching sufficed to find it. The set was gone. Mysteriously.
The loss was more an inconvenience than a calamity, for a I had spare keys. Nonetheless, because I really liked my Celtic key chain that fit my hand comfortably, I prayed to St. Anthony, saint of lost objects, to bring them home. Nothing happened. And then, remembering that Padre Pio, the modest Apulian priest who was graced with stigmata and sainted in 2001, is also said to answer every prayer directed to him – I prayed to him, as well, non-Catholic though I am, to return my keys.
Again and again I went through my purse, looking for the keys. Over and over I found myself peering into the little basket at the front door, the next for all my keys, as if I had never looked there before; and every time, of course, in vain. Over the weeks, I must have emptied that basket three, four, even five times, fingering all the keys in the basket, in hopes that my lost set would miraculously reappear.
And of course it did not.
When I reached into the basket and pulled out…. my lost keys! On their Celtic key chain! I stood in the hallway, mouth agape. My first thought was that a guest might have found them. Except that no one had been in the house for the past few days. One day the keys were lost. One day they returned.
Is this the power of prayer? And to whom? Padre Pio or St. Anthony? Are angels waiting to be of help? Or am I (and this is certainly possible) simply losing my mind? I remember another occasion when I lost a ring that I adored. I was in Kentucky on business, when I lost the ring. I went back to the rooms where I’d been staying, searched everywhere, left instructions in case the ring turned up, and when I got home I unzipped my suitcase time after time, obsessively inspecting it (as with my key chain basket) in hopes the ring would appear despite the fact that had not been in the suitcase before. I combed my clothes for the ring. I fingered all the hidden pockets in my travel jewelry case, and then I would take the suitcase out of the closet, unzip it once again and once more run my hand and eyes over every inside surface.
One day I took down the suitcase to go on another trip, opened it, and there, lying clearly visible in the middle of the empty space, blinked my ring.
Has anyone else had such an experience? What are we to make of it? I must add that a year or two after the return of that ring it was permanently lost. I was traveling in Peru. I woke up one morning with the clear intuition that today I was going to lose the ring. The premonition was so fierce that I put the ring on my finger, in case my suitcase was stolen; and every now and again all morning, as we drove through the dry desert to Lima, I glanced down at my hand, grateful to see the ring still snug on my finger. I say snug, because I had to pull and twist the ring to get it off. This was not a loose, slippery piece of jewelry.
At one point we stopped at a gas station. I stood at the sink in the Ladies Room. “I better not remove my ring,” I thought, “in case I lose it.” I remember distinctly, therefore, washing my hands with the ring on my finger. I dried my hands and returned to the car, and an hour later, glancing down at my hand, saw – the ring was gone!
I have no understanding of these things. I was dismayed. My only comfort was that somehow, for mysterious reasons, I’d been forewarned. Once earlier, the ring had come back to me under extraordinary circumstances. I did not expect its return a second time. Now, in the case of my just-found keys, I can only try to be particularly grateful, (not to mention careful), lest the next time round they don’t come back again.