Sunday, March 10, 2013

Always in the Last Place You Look

It's Always
in the Last Place You Look

or, An Amazing Coincidence!

This weekend's gospel reading is the parable of the lost son (aka "The Prodigal Son").  When I preached on it, I also referenced the 2 parables that precede it in Luke 15, those of the lost sheep and the lost drachma.

That's the setting that turns what follows into quite a coincidence (not to mention that on my way to Putnam Valley yesterday afternoon I was listening to stories of coincidences on NPR's This American Life!).

So--last October, Troop 40 encamped at Site 35 in Durland Scout Reservation for the annual Michael A. Boccardi Trek-o-ree (

When I got home, I couldn't find my Swiss Army knife, which I usually strap to my belt in a sheath.  I searched my tent about 3 times.  I searched my backpack about 3 times.  I searched my daypack about 3 times.  I went into the flower bed under the back porch, where I'd draped the tent to air out on my return, in case the knife had fallen out of the tent during the draping.

When I couldn't find the knife anywhere, I concluded that I must have left it in the tent on Saturday nite, and on Sunday morning shaken it out of the tent onto the ground (among the autumn leaves?) as I was packing up.  Nothing to do but, the next time I got up to Durland, to check lost-and-found and then scour the campsite.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to take part in any more Troop 40 trips after October (having been away in December, and a February trip getting snow-stormed out).  The idea of looking over a couple hundred feet around where I'd pitched my tent, now covered by almost a foot of snow, was not a happy thought.

I borrowed a metal detector from a confrere, and yesterday finally had the chance to return to Durland--to offer Saturday evening Mass for NYLT staff.  So I checked lost-and-found, then went to Site 35, covered by about 8" of snow, and tramped back and forth.  Every time the detector pinged, I dug up snow and leaves beneath the snow to find--nothing.  I figured I'd have to wait till the snow was all gone and rely just on visual examination, or maybe I wasn't really in the right site.

So I went back to NYLT and started setting up for Mass.  I dug into the Mass kit that I hadn't used since October, pulling out vestments, chalice, hosts, wine, hymn sheets, etc.  And down at the very bottom of the bag was ... my Swiss Army knife!

Lost sheep, lost drachma, lost son, lost knife (yes, that got an honorable mention in the homily, the Scouts having witnessed the finding)!

And as they say, I found it in the last place that I looked, one place where I hadn't looked back in October.

Several of the Scouters and Scouts credited St. Anthony.  That's OK with me.

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