(Just some toadstools we found. We call them "Squirrels' Tea Party.")
I just love St. Anthony.
Dear St. Anthony, please come around...
Something is lost, and cannot be found!
So when Meredith at Sweetness and Light challenged her readers--in an incredibly thoughtful post on Keeping the Company of the Saints--to take "Baby Steps" and immediately find some way to include the Saints in our every day lives, I knew just where I'd start.
I know some things about a lot of Saints, but there are very few that have touched my heart so deeply that I truly think of them as "friends."
St. Anthony is definitely at the top of that list.
And yes, when I can't find something, St. Anthony is definitely my go-to guy. And he has never, ever let me down.
OK, so there was that one time. I think I may have left that file of amazing zoo photos and unparalleled zoo lesson plan ideas for my preschool class on top of the recycle bin just before it went to the curb--what was he supposed to do?
(That was over 10 years and two houses ago. My confidence in him is so strong that every now and then I poke around old boxes, still expecting to find it. When we someday meet face to face, I half expect him to pull it out from behind his back and say, "Gotcha!")
That St. Anthony!
Several months before The Chief and I were to be married, The Chief had offered to help me spruce up the yard at my house to ready it for the market, by assisting in the taming of what had become a massive hedge, and carting off the waste to his burn pile at what is now our home, 55 miles away. (He's at the top of my list, too!) I had on my left wrist a delicate gold bracelet my beloved had given me the previous Christmas, that I had never taken off. At some point during the hedge trimming, raking, bagging and stuffing the truck, that bracelet fell off my wrist.
I was heartbroken! Not because I loved wearing jewelry, of course, but because of what that one piece meant to me. I noticed it was missing on the ride between our homes. I had no idea where it could be, and I despaired of ever seeing it again. We were already well into the hour-plus drive, and even if it were easy to go right back, I had no idea where to begin looking! The Chief (ok, so he was only the Captain then) assured me that, at least we could look for it as we dumped the brush into the burn pile. It would be very much like looking for a needle in a haystack, though, and neither of us believed we'd have much luck. I sighed deeply, and when we arrived at his house, we set to work. Of course, we never saw the bracelet. When we were finished, The Chief and I looked at each other helplessly, and I said, "Well, we can ask St. Anthony."
No sooner had the words slipped from my lips but I looked down at the ground, and there, on the toe of my shoe, right where we had just dumped multiple loads of branches and leaves, was that bracelet.
I've always suspected St. Anthony himself put it there.
On another occasion, a coworker of mine was frantically looking for an important document she needed for a meeting she was heading for that afternoon. As she shared her frustration with me, I smiled. "You could ask St. Anthony to help you. He always does me." She looked at me blankly. "I'm not Catholic," she stated flatly.
I smiled brighter still. "That's OK! He's not prejudiced!" She rolled her eyes. I asked for help. She found the document.
What can I say? He likes to do this stuff!
Sometimes I'd be tempted to think I was merely being a little superstitious. I mentioned that to him, somewhat sheepishly once, as I made yet another mundane request. "I know, I know, this is a dumb thing to ask, isn't it?" I added. I got an immediate impression of a response. "Why don't you just let it increase your faith?" came the reply.
The thought took my breath away.
I don't question it anymore.
Now, my children know that any time something is missing, we call on St. Anthony. When the prayer is coming directly from them, I sometimes get a little nervous, and remind him that finding it will increase their faith, too.
He knows to be patient with me.
So today's Nature Monday was dedicated to our friend, St. Anthony. We went on a nature walk back at the pond, looking for fungi, and for "evidence" that squirrels or raccoons had been there, toting corncobs stolen from the field next door. Or for whatever other "evidence' St. Anthony wanted to share.
Oh, it was so fun! We changed the couplet though, since we really hadn't lost anything:
Dear St. Anthony, please come around.
We know that with you, all good things can be found!
The children overturned old tree stumps. They looked up into trees. They gazed delightedly at the play of the wind on the grasses. They found lots of toadstools. And lots of corncobs, kernels and pieces of cob, and even a few corn shoots! They found deer tracks, and tire tracks ("Evidence! That Daddy was here!" said Junie B. joyfully.) And they attributed all of it to the loving intervention of our friend, St. Anthony.
We read from Amy Welborn's Book of Saints. I was just so amazed at how appropriate is her lead-in to the chapter on St. Anthony, to exactly what I was hoping to accomplish. She writes (p. 279),
Following Jesus isn't just for Sundays or special occasions. It's for every day. We don't have to follow all sorts of complicated rules to follow Jesus. We can follow him in many simple, ordinary ways.
Saints know this, of course...They know that we only have the strength to take great big steps toward God when we've been taking lots of little steps all along.
Isn't that just what Meredith was talking about, too?
But it's funny, when I immediately went to St. Anthony for a focus today, without much of a plan, mind you, I wasn't thinking of him as the Saint of the Ordinary. I usually give that category over to another dear friend, St. Theresa the Little Flower. So Amy Welborn's introduction to St. Anthony caught me totally off-guard, and as I read aloud to the children, I found I had to swallow hard to keep my voice steady.
Because I suddenly realized something.
Today, St. Anthony found me.