It wasn't an I've-hurt-myself-and-I'm-in-pain sort of wail, nor was it the Momma-Cole-hit-me manner either. This was exasperation. It was drama seasoned with despair. My red-faced five-year old materialized in moments with fresh tears streaming and something tiny in tow.
"What's wrong, My," I asked.
"I (sniff) lost (sniff) my (sniffle) earring (sobbbbbb)."
Just a few minutes earlier, while my children delighted in our yard's simple pleasures, Maya hopped off her bike and took off her helmet. In the process, a loose strap grabbed hold of the sparkly, five-petaled daisy in her ear, pulled the post from her lobe and sent it flying... somewhere.
As I listened to my daughter despondently described the events of recent past, my mind temporarily left the room. It traveled down a short flight of stairs through our toy-strewn family room, out the sliding glass door to the patio, with its teak furnishings. There were benches, tables, chairs and stairs up to a deck, with a grill beneath its cover. There was flagstone and concrete with levels, cracks and sinews. There were pots and plants and trees and weeds, which I fully intend to get to soon. There was dirt, rock borders and grass, LOTS of grass.
As I came back to myself, to my daughter and to her desperation, our backyard seemed vast and infinite in its pockets and possibilities. In contrast to the missing, tiny stud our backyard was Eden. Looking in, one might conclude that the situation was hopeless. How could we possibly find what we were looking for? In that moment I could have given Maya a sympathetic hug and a dose of the grim reality. She would have cried for a while and eventually gone back out to play. I would then return to my pad and my unfinished thoughts, and eventually, I would have showered. We would have cut our losses and moved on. But we didn't. She didn't, and neither did I.
Instead, I reached out to the little girl clutching all that remained of something precious, and I gently held her shoulders, kneeled down and looked into her moist eyes. I paused, spoke out and said something unexpected. It changed the course of that moment forever.
"Maya, we will find it. I always find what I am looking for. Always."
I reminded her of the many things that have made their way back to her posession and to mine -- the little: a yellow barrette, a sippy cup, and a workout shirt -- the tiny: the screw that holds my sunglasses together (in shag carpet after nearly a week) -- and the big: a wallet and a dream.
"I always find what I am looking for. I always find what I am looking for," I told her and myself. "That which is rightfully mine invariably find its way back to me, and it will find its way back to you."
In that moment, I wasn't sure about the how or the where or the when. All I knew is that I knew, and all that mattered is that Maya knew it too. The revelation and reality we have each begun to see and to experience gave us contagious confidence that I can't entirely describe. The more I have noticed it, the more I have begun to believe it. The more I have believed it, the more I have begun to see it. And in that moment, as I stopped, acknowledged, and spoke it aloud, the tears stopped, our focus shifted and it was true.
In the sunshine and splendor of yesterday morning, we retraced Maya's steps and approached her bike, which rested near the fence. This, she explained, was the spot where she removed her helmet and last felt her earring. We dropped to the ground with its cracks and its sinew and began a hopeful search.
Where is it, Lord? Where is it? Show us the way. Help us to find it.
What if it fell into the rocks, the thought flashed into my mind as a worried Maya simultaneously inquired. "Momma, what if we don't find it? May I wear one of your earrings instead?"
I always find what I am looking for. I always find what I'm looking for... there is no way I will find it if it fell into these rocks, so there is no way it is in these rocks. Did it fall into the grass or the collar of her dress? Where is it? It could be anywhere. Which way?
"Maya, we are going to find it" I responded to her worry and to my doubt.
We walked to the left (and to the right) up and down the length of the fence several times with our noses to the ground to no avail. We each took potty breaks, retraced her steps inside to the couch, and then we headed back outside. After ten or fifteen minutes of looking, I asked again and I knew -- it was time for us to stop.
"Maya, I'm going to go take a shower, and I want you and Cole to play."
"But what if it gets dark, and we don't find it?" she pleaded.
"Maya, I promise you (oh my), we are going to find it. Remember your barrette or my itty bitty screw? Just picture your earring. Really try to see it and visualize yourself finding it. Maya, we will find it. You will find it, or else..."
In that moment, in the splendor and sunshine of a glorious morning, my gaze fell past my daughter to the flagstone patio behind her. Nearly ten feet to the left of the path we had grazed, the background faded away with my words. Time and space and sound stood still for an instant, and that was when only one thing came clearly into focus: a tiny silver post perched atop red stone.
"...or else, it will find you."
"Whether you believe you can or you believe you can't,
either way, you are right."
either way, you are right."