Last Tuesday I was getting ready for a Parish Pastoral Council Meeting, but when I went to the filing cabinet to retrieve the relevant folder, I couldn’t find it. How could a whole folder go missing? I went through every file, in every drawer, in the filing cabinet. I took them all out, and put them all back in again. It was nowhere to be found. I went through every other press in the office but all to no avail. I wracked my brain to try and remember when, and where, I had last consulted this file. I forlornly searched every other place, office, room, and hall, where I could have conceivably misplaced it. Nothing. I had even been informed that the key had broken off in the Saint Antony Shrine box in the church, and in my demented state of mind, I interpreted this as Saint Antony not being able to help me either.
Those of you who have had this experience will know that the search can very quickly become an obsession. I could envisage sleepless nights ahead going through it again, and again in my mind. Where had I put it? The only positive thing was that I was doing some much needed tidying up and clearing out as I went along. After a couple of hours, having given up completely, I was retrieving something else from a press that I had searched about four times already. My attention was drawn to a black box file. Suddenly, a light went on in my brain. Sometime after the previous month’s Parish Pastoral Council meeting, I had decided that the folder was getting too full to comfortably be accommodated in the hanging suspension file in the cabinet, and so I had transferred all the material into a box file, but I had no recollection whatsoever of doing this, until then. The joy of the woman finding the lost coin; the shepherd finding the lost sheep, and the father welcoming the lost son, was also to be found in me. My joy was complete.
This isn’t the first time I have devoted my log to this theme. A couple of years ago I misplaced my driving licence, which I later found in page 34 of the Glenstal Prayer Book, marking Psalm 26 for Tuesday Evening Vespers, which contains the verse: “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek, hide not your face”. At that moment, the Lord’s face seemed a lot easier to find than my driving licence. I have regularly misplaced my passport, my keys, my wallet, my phone, and so on. The common denominator seems to be when I always keep something in the same place, and then for some mysterious reason, dredged from some rarely used part of my brain, I decide that there is a better, safer place to keep it, and I change. The next time I want the said item, I go back to the place where it had always been kept, only to find it not there, and being without a clue as to the new “better, safer” place I had transferred it to.
The biggest thing I’ve ever lost was my car, in the long-term car park at Dublin Airport. I was rushing to a meeting in Holland when I was secretary to the North European Conference of Passionists. The meeting began on a Thursday evening and was due to end on the Saturday evening. I had booked a flight back from Amsterdam to Dublin on the Sunday morning and had scheduled myself to celebrate public Mass in Mount Argus at 4pm on Sunday afternoon. The only thing was that I had forgotten to take note of where I had left the car, so that, on arrival, I really didn’t have a clue where it was. After searching, but to no avail, I had to call the monastery and ask if there was someone who was able to celebrate the 4pm Mass for me. A long time later I found the car and eventually made it home. A lesson learned? Maybe!
The ironic thing is that I decided to write about this incident in the following week’s bulletin in Mount Argus, which then turned into a regular feature, and that is what has now segued into Father Frank’s Log in St. Mungo’s. My intention is to convey that, in the most ordinary, mundane, funny, and even ridiculous events of everyday life, God is there – always.
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. - Julian of Norwich
God communicates with us by way of all things; they are messages of love- Ernesto Cardenal