by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM July 31, 2022
There’s something of the feel of a mini-resurrection about it: those times when we’ve hunted, scoured, turned upside down and inside out every possible hiding place for a lost object. The set of keys, the cell phone, the eyeglasses, the scrap of paper with contact information that’s critical for our next step. And then, if we’re very fortunate, the longed for, prayed for reappearance of what was lost, the relief, the utterances of gratitude.
A few weeks ago I was flying home from Kentucky after leading a guided retreat. As usual, my heart swelled with gratitude because of the wonderful people I had prayed and reflected with that week. Also as usual, I was utterly spent from the outpouring of psychic energy that presenting and facilitating and travel demand. All I wanted was to be home.
I waited at the Scranton airport as bag after bag passed by on the carousel and was claimed. I waited when every other passenger had gone home and the carousel stood motionless and empty. I waited at the ticket counter as an agent checked my receipt, informing me that my luggage was recorded as having arrived in Scranton. Except that my bag was nowhere to be found.
And then something took place that could probably happen only in the tiny Scranton airport: a posse of sorts was formed to search for my missing luggage! Agents and baggage handlers disappeared and fanned out into the land of unclaimed bags, onto tarmacs, around vehicles and other hiding places. Finally, the message, “The lost has been found!” Indeed it had, and a beaming search party proudly presented my bag to me.
I received it with deep gratitude, then walked to my car and sat without moving for a long while. I was spent from a week of presenting, of traveling, of anxiety (and all those prayers to St. Anthony). And I began to sit with what it is to be lost and then recovered.
Jesus left us with three parables that I dub “the lost and found”: the errant sheep, the misplaced coin, the wayward child (Luke 15:4-32). These stories followed criticism by the Pharisees because Jesus was hanging out with people of doubtful and unsavory reputation, people whose good name had long been “lost” to them because of the judgment of the seemingly righteous. The Message Bible translates the grumbling of these observers as, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Like old friends. Like people no longer on the outside looking in. Like people who belong. Like the longed-for, long-awaited beloved. And yes, that is who we are.
Jesus’ story reveals his vision of a kin-dom where no doors or walls or gates keep anyone out. His parable underscores the predilection of the Holy One for all that has been judged as less than, as wanting. He shows a bias towards those who have been shamed, broken, silenced, overlooked, rendered invisible, lost to the world. And just like the posse scouting for my lost luggage, Jesus refuses to give up the search until lost moves to found. In Jesus’ telling, the pursuit comes to a hopeful conclusion, marked by a dance of delight, a clapping of hands, or a rather raucous party. And always, the seeking leads to a homecoming, a reclaiming of our rightful place in the family of God, a profound knowing that we are, and always have been, beloved.
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Have you ever been lost or lost something/someone?
Name how that felt.
Now name yourself “beloved.”
What does this feel like? Sound like?
Savor the sweetness of knowing your place in the heart of God, no matter what is happening in your life.
Offer words of thanks for being forever found.
Featured Image: Jon Tyson, Unsplash
I’m posting this a bit early and asking you to please remember in your prayer my IHM Congregation as we come together this weekend for our annual Assembly and for the Jubilee celebration of our Sisters who have given their lives over to 25, 50, 60, 70, 75, and 80 years of joyful, loving service to the People of God.
Please also pray for the success of St. Joseph Center’s Festival this same weekend. Rooted in the core values of care, concern, compassion and commitment, Saint Joseph’s, sponsored by my IHM Congregation, humbly serves people who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and those who seek pregnancy support, adoption assistance, outpatient therapy or medical day care services. The Festival is a major fundraiser that benefits those served by St. Joseph’s Center.
Thank you for your prayer for those who were part of my most recent guided retreat at Villa Pauline, Mendham, NJ. A delight to be with everyone and to re-connect with longtime friends.
Please hold in your prayer the Sisters of St. Joseph (Brentwood) who will be part of a guided retreat I’m leading at St. Joseph’s Villa, Hampton Bays, Long Island, NY during this time. Thank you.
This is my last blog post until September. It’s my custom to keep the month of August as much as possible for renewal and self care. So I offer one retreat in August (13-19) but no additional writing or direction appointments. I hope to use this restorative time for my own retreat and for tending to the rhythms of my body and spirit.
May you also have time to savor the last weeks of summer. Thank you for following Mining the Now, and see you in September.
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