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Looking and overlooking

Looking and overlooking

It was just an ordinary day. The boys were doing catly things: Phoebe sleeping in a cool part of the bedroom, Dominic sleeping on the floor, and Gandhi watching me chew on tortilla chips. Undoubtedly he was hoping for a nibble or two as he sat staring at me with his tail curled tidily around his feet, its tip hovering over the floor near the vent that blew out cool air. Naturally, I couldn’t resist, so I broke off a small piece of chip and tossed it in his direction. After a slight bounce, somehow, it landed right at the very end of the slightly upraised tail. It was so light he didn’t even notice it—at first.

I had to laugh as I watched him look and sniff around his immediate area, knowing there was a treat there somewhere. Meanwhile, a white chip was still lightly sitting on the end of his jet-black tail, as evident as a single star in a very dark sky. As I watched him, I remembered the times when I put something down and a few seconds later spent minutes looking around to find where I’d put it. Keys, the lid to the jar I make iced tea in, a screwdriver, my phone, the proper sized knitting needles – all of them at some time or other have been marks for me to find after laying them down for just a second or two. Thinking of that made me wish I had a nose like Gandhi’s, one so eminently suitable for sniffing out things for which he is looking.

That led me to think about how easy it is to overlook things. I’m still looking for a ring box I mislaid a couple of years ago. I’m glad my glasses are a pretty much permanent part of my face, or I’d be searching for them (and with my eyesight, probably overlooking a dozen times before I put my fingerprints all over the lenses and recognized I’d found them). Gandhi’s nose wouldn’t help with those, I’m afraid. Maybe if I put them on top of a bag of cat treats, it might help, although I don’t find the scent of those nearly as appealing as my boys do.

If I often overlook things I’m searching for, how many things I’m not looking for or even thinking about escape my notice? I mean, something like homeless people, an errand I could run for a neighbor who doesn’t get out often or taking the time to listen when I’m with someone who really needs an ear to hear whatever they need to talk about.

I have to consider the story of the woman in Luke 15:8-10 who loses a coin and then sweeps the whole house searching for it. I’ve been there and done that, thinking that the search would be much easier if I decluttered a bit.  Sometimes I’ve found whatever it was, many times I haven’t, although the house is definitely cleaner than it was. I’ve been known to clean the same area half a dozen times because I remember seeing it or running across it in that area sometime previously. Poor St. Anthony must think I have him on speed dial, but more times than not, he does help me out in finding the phone or the keys, if not the ring box. Unlike the woman, though, I don’t run outside, inviting all and sundry to party with me because I’ve found something that was lost. I have resolved to be more careful in the future with whatever I’ve recovered, and I’ve remembered to thank St. Anthony (and God).

Maybe I should remember that often I find things I wasn’t looking for at the time but had been searching for a day or so before, like the little needle markers for my knitting or some lotion I know I had somewhere, just not where. Maybe I should spend more time praying about essential things than where I put my favorite pen. Perhaps I should remind myself frequently to pay attention to the world around me and what needs I could fill if I just noticed them?

For what have you been overlooking or searching? What have you done to find whatever it is? What would make you see the things that you may have overlooked?

Oh, Gandhi did find the chip after a minute or two. I guess persistence pays off.


Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.


Image: Parable of the Lost Drachma, (1618-1622) by Domenico Fetti, in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany. In the public domain. Found at Wikimedia Commons.

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