My glasses have gone on hiatus. I remember wearing them 24 hours ago, returning from a poetry reading at a Berkeley bookstore, and since then, I have no idea where they are. Usually this kind of absence is momentary or fleeting, and I have a system of sorts to help me: I’ve designated one spot in each room where I place my glasses if I take them off in that room. This reduces the number of places they usually might be, an important strategic point, since ironically the most important physical possession to have when looking for my glasses is… my glasses.
Since I use them to drive, this could theoretically be catastrophic (for me, for other drivers, and especially for innocent pedestrians), but I have my prescription sports goggles (that I use for volleyball, racquetball and running), so I can still get around even if I look more strange than usual. Which means this is primarily an annoyance.
What do you do when you have misplaced something?
I usually do three things.
First, I search the most likely places. I went through each room of the house. I started with the chosen put-my-glasses-here spot in each room, and then expanded my search to all kinds of would-never-put-my-glasses here places. Nowhere did I see my glasses.
Second, I retrace my steps. I thought back to the time I knew I last had my glasses. I clearly had them after the bookstore event, because if I had driven home without them, I would have noticed. But I blanked out when I imagined coming inside and taking them off anywhere afterwards.
Thirdly, I do what I should do first: I check in On High. This usually starts with a whining, “Really?! Was this necessary? Why you gotta do this to me?” and progresses to inquiring if there are any things I’ve left undone, unsaid or unattended that The Master of the Universe is bringing to my attention.
Sometimes, God is being helpful in a masterful way, like when I’m in a rush to get somewhere and head out without my glasses. I come back inside to get them, and in the course of looking for my glasses I discover another needed item (like my wallet!). Without the “inconvenience” of misplacing my glasses, I would have arrived at my destination completely unprepared. So the “annoyance” of misplaced glasses turns out to be a kindness from On High.
More often, however, there is some other lesson being pointed to, and the instruction is often related to the item I can’t find. For example, I found it fitting that on my road trip out to California from Minnesota this last time, when I was planning to get married and stay out here, I misplaced my Minnesota driver’s license. To me this was symbolic of letting go of my identity as a Minnesotan to embrace creating a home with my new bride (and her son) in sunny California.
I view my life as a canvas on which God and I together create an artistic work of a lived life. I see symbolism and grace in the details, and I hope to contribute my part towards making it a masterpiece.
My sense of the lesson of my glasses was not coming into focus, however, and I remarked to my wife that I didn’t think I would find my glasses until I next davened (did my traditional prayers). Praying increases my connection On High, and I often have increased intuition and awareness during and afterwards.
Later in the day, I went to my usual davening space and saw my glasses sitting atop a tall adjacent cabinet. This is a place I never put my glasses. But there they were, resting comfortably on their high perch, waiting for me.
I took this as a sign that I had gotten the message. That I wasn’t seeing how important my daily prayers are in my life and so The Master had gotten my attention, via my glasses, to redirect my focus. (And in fact I had missed saying my prayers both that morning and that afternoon, an unusual dereliction).
It often goes this way. I interpret my life almost as you would a good movie or a great novel: everything means something, everything is placed where it is for a reason, and there are meanings and hidden symbolism available to the inquisitive and open mind. And while not every situation discloses its secrets so easily, I find my life richer for being in this conversation with The One.
May your life reveal its hidden meanings to you, Gentle Reader, and may you gather in the hidden meanings and act appropriately on their messages.