I am ecstatic. We sit down on a bench for a minute to rest, then get back up to continue trotting through the Magic Kingdom. Not too much later, I look around and ask my parents where my prized posssesions are. The horrible realization hits: Dumbo and Wallet didn’t make it off the bench with me. Tears. Buckets of them. Mournful tears. Dad takes off like a rocket in pursuit of the missing treasures, then comes back to report, sadly, that they’re gone. Gone with the wind, swiped from the bench by some punk kid (or worse, some thoughtless parent) who subscribed to the “Finders, Keepers” school of thought. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke…“How long can an abandoned stuffed Dumbo sit on a bench at Disneyworld?”
Additional mournful tears ensue.
Yes, I am an only child. No, I didn’t always get everything I wanted. In this particular situation, my parents made a decision that I suppose could be construed as giving in, but to this day, I have never forgotten that my daddy went and made things right for me. We were in Disneyworld, after all…the only time in my life I have ever been. The thunderclouds of that day faded when another (identical) Dumbo and Minnie Mouse wallet were plopped into my hands. I had never been more grateful in all my six years. It was just as if my old Dumbo, close friend of maybe 45 minutes, had been found. Duplicate Dumbo and I rejoiced together in our reunion.
Fast-forward to yesterday.
My three-year-old son asks if he can wear his Mickey Mouse hat to the mall. (Déjà vu…not only is it a Disney product, but it is actually my Mickey baseball cap from high school that he has commandeered.) I tell him sure, and after visiting several stores, we head to the cluster of 50-cent “baby rides” in the center of the mall. The children climb like monkeys over the rides (who needs quarters?), and then I usher them away from the area, out to the parking lot, and strap them into the van. I begin to pull out of the parking place.
“Momma?” comes a little anxious voice from the back seat. “Where’s my HAT?”
A wave of dread wells up within me.
“Look in our bags,” I tell his older sister.
“It’s not HERE!” she dramatically wails. Upon hearing this report, little brother erupts in…you guessed it…mournful tears.
My heart sinks. That hat is, after all, my hat. It has sentimental value, and I am not about to willfully surrender it to some “Finder Keeper” punk kid strolling through the mall. Disneyworld 1982 is not going to be repeated, and I am ready to fight.
The van screeches into the next available parking place. I throw it into park, unbuckling my seatbelt at the same time. “Get out, kids,” I bellow. “We’re going back in!”
I grab one child on either hand, and we take off running through the parking lot, down the sidewalk, weaving through hopelessly slow pedestrians blocking my pathway. I fling open the glass doors, dragging the kids behind me. We stop at a mall kiosk that we had visited earlier and ask the vendor if he has seen a Mickey hat. He shrugs and shakes his head. We careen around the corner, headed straight for the baby rides, and there, blessedly perched atop the green train engine, is my Mickey hat.
“I found it!” crows my daughter, while other mothers look on and smile. I smile back, silently grateful that they weren’t Finder Keeper moms. I plop the hat on the head of my relieved and happy little boy…and think back to 1982.
Luke 15:8 says, “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Yes, I believe I would have swept the entire mall until I found that hat, if it had come to that. If he had to, my dad probably would have gone to the other end of the Magic Kingdom to replace Dumbo and Wallet. Those things had value – maybe not to the rest of the world, but to me.
Of course, people are worth a lot more than worn out baseball caps and stuffed animals. And if we, in our state of limited humanity, get excited over finding little lost things like hats, then heaven’s joy must be infinitely greater when a person who was once lost is found.
Sounds a lot like Amazing Grace.
Dumbo…my hat…and me.