It’s always important to check yourself in public to make sure you have everything you brought with you. Don’t leave the restaurant without your box of leftovers, and leave the movie theater without looking on the ground to make sure you’ve got your wallet, keys, and cell phone. But when public transportation is your sole means of getting around you tend to be a little crazy about that, since whatever you might forget on the bus will most likely not be returned to you.
If you’re as anal retentive as I am you have a daily ritual, a procedure for verifying all the things you brought with you are still intact. I do this ritual every day. When I get on the bus to go to work gloves are placed in their appropriate coat pockets, and my scarf and hat go in my backpack. As I approach the stop I get off at for work, I touch my pockets (this verifies phone, wallet, and keys are preserved), and I close whatever book I was reading and put it in the outside pocket of my backpack. This is the routine, every day, day after day. That is unless something changes it, like bringing Freyja (our Shepherd/Lab mix) to work with me.
Freyja is allowed to ride the buses for free, she just has to remain seated on the floor. It’s very cute to see her walk wearily up the bus steps not knowing what she’s getting into, and then to cram herself in the floor space in between seats. It’s basically an airline seat without the baggage space at your feet. She gets a lot of smiles from people boarding the bus.
As she and I arrived at work I tried to pack myself together to get off the bus and also remember her and her leash. It only dawned on my when we went to leave work later that day that I must have left a glove in my seat since I only had one with me. As Sam knows, I get a little crazy when things are out of place, especially when I have a system that I repeat day after day that fails me. I called the bus company and they said I could pick it up after 1pm the next day to give the driver time to finish his routes, find the glove, and get it to lost and found.
So the next day I don’t take Freyja with me and go about my normal routine. I get off at my stop to go to work and as I’m waiting at the stop light for the walk signal I look down and notice a black ski glove. I think to myself, “Surely that can’t be my glove.” I inspect it and sure enough, “Manzella,” written on the side and it’s the right glove which I was missing. It was completely frozen solid in a weird contorted position, much like what I would expect myself to look like if I slept outside in a pile of ice and snow in sub-freezing temps: gnarly and disfigured.
The first thing I thought of was Ecclesiastes 11:1.
Cast your glove upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
I’m not a scholar, but I’m pretty sure it’s ‘bread’ and not ‘glove.’ I always took this verse to mean something about not caring so much about the possessions of life because we can always get more stuff. That ultimately reminded me of 1 John 3:17.
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
I could lose that glove and buy a new pair. I could lose my house and though it would be a big hassle, we have home owners insurance and we could get a new one. Ultimately, everything we own in life is replaceable. I live well, and I want to give as much as I can to people in need, showing compassion. Because let’s face it people, God showed us all compassion in our need. What more can we ask of God when he’s already died for us and made us his children?
But there is something we have access to that can never be replaced and we lose it every day. You guessed it: time. We own all this stuff, then when we die someone else gets it. I want to give my stuff away before I die so I know who it’s going to, so I can experience joy with them, and so I can maybe find some humility. I’m always impressed when I hear of certain famous people dying and leaving a huge chunk of their wealth to a charity. That’s awesome, but it’s also a little impersonal.
Sam and I read a book called “Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess” by Jen Hatmaker. Ever since then we’ve been downsizing our possessions in this world. It’s not that having things is bad, or selfish, or sinful. But when we live so well, shouldn’t we help other people do so too? Not because the government rakes the welfare money in, but out of our own free offering to a God who has compassion on us and calls us his children. When you get to page 69 in the book I think you’ll be able to relate.
So cast your gloves, or your extra clothes, or whatever you don’t use anymore and see if it doesn’t just come back to you.