Far be it from me to admit that I was never a naughty child. God knows that I was, and so did my parents, who are now happily resting in the bosom of Abraham. God also knows that I was an adventurous and mischievous rascal. And so was my twin brother, Isidore. I leave it to him to tell his own tale.
And now we come to that day when we toddlers were going to visit one of those mega stores that promised so much excitement. From the moment of passing through the palatial entrance it was evident that there would be much to excite my curiosity and delight -so much to see, wonders to be discovered, corridors between counters and display stands to be explored. Mother, a caring soul, was lightly holding my twin brother and me by the hand. With a primitive instinct that escapees don't break out in a dramatic fashion, I slipped away from mother without her noticing. Gradually I drifted away from her as I peered this way and that, examining everything.
And then I espied the wonderland of toys -of teddy bears and rocking horses, building bricks and tricycles. With a mindless compulsion I was drawn on and on and on, from one toy to another -totally captivated.
But then I realized I was surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar environment. I felt lonely, desolate. I panicked. I screamed for Mummy. I was afraid! But a kindly soul took me by the hand and calmed me down with soothing words. Holding me by the hand she took me into a small box-like room with no windows. A sliding door closed with a resounding clanking, clattering din.
Never before in my short life had I been so cut off from the world and everyone I knew and loved. And then there was the strange feeling in my gut that I was being taken up and up and up, and having nothing before my eyes to tell me it was so. Eventually this 'tin box' came to an abrupt halt.
The door gently slid open and we stepped out of the lift (elevator). In no time I heard a voice speaking into a mike my name and a description of me -a sweet little boy, with golden curls and wearing an orange shirt, bright red shorts and answering to the name of 'Peter.' "Would my mother kindly collect me from the 'LOST PROPERTY ROOM' -on the top floor of t this enormous building?!
In my infant ignorance I had wondered if she would be able to find me. No need to describe the reunion when mother reclaimed her 'lost property.' What a magic moment for both of us -she relieved that I had come to no harm; I ecstatic that mother had cherished me so much that she had sought me out until she could reclaim me and embrace me. She might so easily have blamed me.
And now, many years later, I realize that at this very tender age I had experienced the anguish of the lost sheep in the parable, and then the relief, the joy of being sought and being found by the shepherd -and not by a hungry wolf. In the parable the lost/found sheep was given a VIP welcome, a ride on the shepherd's shoulders.
Long after the event, I now reflect on the folly, the pain I had brought upon myself and upon my mother, all through my going after forbidden freedoms. And then I think of the beauty of discovering I was still cherished, wanted and welcomed by forgiving love after I had thought it smart to cut loose and 'do my own thing!'
A footnote. Excitedly I told my twin brother, Isidore, how this long forgotten episode had unexpectedly come to my mind and how I had promptly decided I could get a blog out of it. Immediately he chipped in that he had been the 'lost property' and had already used this episode in a sermon....Ah well! Mywaygodsway.
In a fortnight Isidore will reflect on how maps help him to meet God