Letting Go

 

 

Last week I was in Barcelona with my daughter, my sister and her daughter. Oh, my gosh, we had so much fun. But on our second night, however,  a gypsy stole my cellphone in a fashion so clever that I am still in awe. There’s a spiritual aspect to the story, but first, let me tell what happened.

It was late at night. We had gone, all four of us, to market to buy food to cook for dinner in our rented quarters. We were jet lagged and tired, having walked five or six miles  that day. Outside the market a Rom or gypsy man approached, begging. He was ragged, dirty, and a little aggressive, and, startled, we hurried on. We walked two blocks back to the hotel, where we had rented the apartment, rang ourselves inside and climbed a flight of marble steps. My daughter was putting the key in the lock to our rooms when suddenly we found the man behind us —frightening, standing too close. No one had heard him climbing the stairs behind us. At the same time a second man ran up the stairs, bumped me so hard that I fell against the wall, and raced up the stairwell as if pursued. The Rom, meanwhile, with pleading, haggard looks was begging, pressing in up too close, assertive, aggressive. Shaken, we shut the door. It was only then that I realized my cellphone was gone.

For the next two days I scolded myself for my stupidity. Stupid! Stupid! But the more I thought about it and the more we talked, the clearer it became that nothing could have prevented the theft. How clever they were! The man running up had slipped it out of my bag when he pushed me, the other man diverting our attention. No one was hurt. The cellphone was blocked, my information safe. We were lucky he had not snatched the purse itself (passport, money, credit cards, cellphone) and dashed down the stairs to the street. We would never have been able to catch him. Moreover, he’d asked for money. We refused to give him any. Was the theft deserved for our frugality?

For two days I was consumed with anger and sense of violation, before remembering the story of St. Athanasiasius, the third century desert father, whose holy book was stolen from his cell. The thief took the valuable object to a dealer, who immediately approached the saint. “Isn’t this your book?” he asked. The answer came, “No, I gave it to a man who needed it more than I.”

I think in the story the thief became a holy hermit, but that’s not important. As a spiritual discipline I had a choice. I could ruin my vacation with anger and self-reproach, or I could forgive myself, bless the thief, freely offer him the phone (since he had it anyway) and be free. I chose the latter, and then discovered another grace  arising from the theft.

Without my phone, I could not check email, FB or daily political indignation, and neither could I take photographs. All around me people stared in slavery to their cellphones while eating, walking, talking. I, instead, had mine removed and with that loss received the gift of being utterly present, free to look, listen, feel, be.

I think of how often I abuse myself with scornful reproaches. I am in a position to buy a new phone, while he, perhaps, needed it to eat. What do I know? The work of angels is always to love, to give, to give away, give more. Turn everything to God, we’re told. Forgive. I can only add it’s the only way to happiness.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Sophy, I am so glad you were not hurt! And that you used this distressing incident as a lesson. I recently picked up a book about St. Bakhita. She was born in Sudan in the 19th century. As a child, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders, kept in chains, horribly beaten and tortured. Sold to an Italian master, she ended up in Italy, where slavery was illegal and she was freed. She was baptized as Catholic. and became a nun. When asked about her feelings toward those who kidnapped her, she not only forgave them, she thanked them for all they did to open a path for her to her new life in Italy. Bakhita became known as the Black Rose and in 2000, was made a saint.

  2. What a truly scary experience! “Turning it over to God” obviously totally reframed your response/reaction which brings its own healing. What a great way to think and express this understanding. Thank you SO much for sharing this with all of us. I am glad that you and your family are SAFE!

  3. Thank you for sharing you trauma turned to a blessing. You all were caught in a very dangerous situation that could have turned into deadly tragedy. As you say, the loss of your cell phone was small compared with having your whole bag and contents stolen. Thank God you were saved and were able to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

  4. AIRPLANE ANGEL SOPHY. I AM SO GLAD THAT INDEED YOU ARE ALRIGHT AND THEY ONLY GOT YOUR CELL PHONE. I SO SORRY FOR SUCH A ORDEAL. THANK GOD AND YOUR ANGELS THAT YOU DID NOT BREAK A HIP OR WORST.. CELLPHONES AND OBJECTS CAN BE REPLACED. BUT YOU ARE
    A SPECIAL SOUL HERE ON OUR EARTH AND OUR UNIVERSE. WITH LOVE , SALLY STOREY. TAKE CARE AND BE FREE TO LOVE, LAUGH, AND LOVE MY AIRPLANE ANGEL SOPHY 😇😇😇😇

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