Eternal Enigma

Several years ago, at our daughter’s wedding, we served appetizers on our antique candlewick plates. Many friends helped us prepare and serve the dinner in our church fellowship room. When we counted the plates afterwards, one was missing. We looked through the kitchen, the Sunday school rooms where food had been prepared, the foyer where the appetizers had been served, and in every corner of our church building. We thought it had been packed up with Grandma’s china that our daughter took with her, but she couldn’t find it. We wondered if someone had accidentally thrown it out. We could not believe someone had stolen it–everyone was family or a close friend.

For months after the wedding, every week when I went to church, I searched the kitchen. I alerted the church staff to the loss. I could not believe it would not turn up. But I never found it. No one had seen a clear glass plate, edged with glass balls. I stopped looking after a while and chalked it up to one of life’s little mysteries.

Then, a few weeks ago on a Thursday evening, the phone rang.

"There’s a plate here that I think is yours." Our friend Carolyn was in the church kitchen.

"You’re kidding!"

"No, I’m not." She described it.

"That’s the plate! It’s been six years!" I clicked off the phone, stunned.

When I heard our administrative pastor had cleaned out a storage room recently, I thought she must have found it. But she knew nothing of it.

I’ve tucked it away in the corner of my mind’s closet, in a box labeled: "Huh?" Having stolen it, did someone finally return it? I still couldn’t believe that. Did someone find it in their things and somehow know to return it to the kitchen? Who would do that without telling us?

I receive it back as a mysterious gift and a reminder of the eternal enigma in which we "live and move and have our being."

Father, this life is full of wonder and mystery.

We know you see clearly.

We wait to understand.

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