This last week I lost one of my kids. The five year-olds and I leave school together and walk through a square and down a pedestrian-only street about 500 yards to the bus stop. One of the boys had stopped for a moment to play in a snow pile and the other and I walked a little further along and stopped just around a corner to look in a shop window.
When I looked back, the first was gone. I wasn’t too worried as the area is fairly self-contained and not terribly busy, but then we started walking again and couldn’t see him at all. And then, way up by the bus stop, we saw a flash of his blue woolen hat, and we ran to catch up to him. He had just run out of a store and headed to the bus stop, obviously looking very hard, and I started shouting his name, but he was clearly panicked, literally running back and forth on the sidewalk trying to sort out what to do. People standing around him looked at me, this giant American shouting on the street, but then the light changed and he ran across the street toward another bus stop we sometimes use. His brother and I ran after him, shouting his name, but he just couldn’t hear us, probably sobbing himself and deafened by the adrenaline. He was running down the sidewalk in a frenzy, and I just ran and kept shouting his name. Just as he was deciding whether to cross the street again, a woman stopped next to him, knelt down, said something and pointed toward me. Finally he looked back and saw me and ran toward me. I gave the woman a wave and a thank you, and knelt down to hug my hysterical son.
‘I thought you took the bus without me,’ he said.
‘I would never, ever do that,’ I said.
‘I know. I forgot.’
As we walked to the bus stop, we talked about what we would do if that happened again, establishing a meeting place. He asked, ‘Did you ever get lost like that?’
As we rode the bus and walked to our flat, I told him about the time I got lost at a huge outdoor market in California — a long, involved story of the type he likes.
But then, while lying in bed that night I thought about how I had been lost in my life, sometimes for years, unable to find my Father, panicked and running, unable to recognize His voice, having forgotten that He would still be there somewhere, until someone stopped me and pointed Him out to me.
And I want to thank each of them.