GPS Coordinates for Grace–About Losing, Seeking, and Finding

 

Today we went out geocaching for the first time with our friends from The Light at Bare Bulb Coffee.  They are like family to us, this group of folks who set out to try something new and learn a little about seeking and finding and apparently, patience.  And all about accepting there are some things we will never find no matter how hard we look.  We used GPS coordinates to seek the little treasures hidden along the trails, working together, poking and digging and laughing and pondering where would be the perfect hiding place.  Ah those tricky clues!

Our Geocaching Adventure today--a first for me and mine.

Our Geocaching Adventure today–a first for me and mine.

It was a beautiful day for wearing hoodies and vests and jackets and watching the patterns on the ground the sunlight made as it filtered through the trees.  At times it was hard to tell the difference between the grownups and the children.  In the end we arrived back at the starting point, having actually found one geocache and all with smiles on our faces.

Until.

Aub opened up the back door and called out that we’d been robbed.  Her purse that she had left under her sister’s jacket in the backseat was open and things were strewn all over the backseat.  When we realized it was her wallet, The Fella asked me about mine.  I opened the front door and looked down under the seat where I’d left it.  Nothing seemed to be disturbed.  Thank goodness.  As Aub searched it seemed that all they absconded with was her cash.  Which was sad enough, but not as bad as it could have been.  Rightfully so she was pretty upset.  As we began the drive home, tensions were high and our Princess started crying.  Aub turned to her, and Princess said, “I lost something too.  My DS.”  Remember how much she and Cooter wanted one of these?  I got really good bargains on the local bookoo site.  Bless her heart, she has done a really good job of taking care of it.  It’s not her fault someone reached in and took what wasn’t theirs.

Oh the tears.  Her heart was broken and suddenly what had been so wonderful was marred.  When we got home, Aub shook her head in anger and said, “I’m more mad about the DS than I am the money.”  She looked at her little sister.  “She will never be the same again.”

I know.  I know, and it makes me sad.

When I was little we didn’t lock our doors.  We lived in a little row of brick houses over on Boy Scout Road and all was safe.  There was a little girl living next door and sometimes we played together, though for the life of me, I can’t remember her name now.  One evening I told her I couldn’t play long because we were going to KMart after supper.  It was a pretty special event, because it was rare we did evening shopping trips like that.  When we returned home after dark, a light was on in the house and Mama’s jewelry box had been gone through.  The one thing missing?  Her ten commandments charm bracelet.  I’m not making this up folks.  I’m not sure exactly what all transpired, but the next day the little girl was at our front door apologizing and returning the bracelet.

Even though I knew who had done it and all was back in its proper place, my world had been changed.  To think that someone was in my house, my safe place, when I wasn’t there and I didn’t know about it.  It upset the heart, the mind, and the stomach.

Aub was about the same age when the house she and I were living in was broken into twice in a six week period.  They ransacked and took, between the two occasions, her change jar, her embroidered backpack, her VCR with her favorite Olive the Olive Reindeer movie in it, and a video camera that I was using for my grad school project.  It was terrifying.  Especially for Aub.  After the second time we set about finding somewhere else to live.  We moved in short order and got a dog who very quickly took it upon himself to let me know if someone so much as slowed down passing by our house.  Bosley was an awesome protector.

It took quite a while for us to feel safe again though.  As a matter of fact, there are times that the old fears come back full force.  When I walked in my house both of those times, I wasn’t sure if the person was still in the house or not.  The second time I was so angry that it had happened again, that I yelled out, daring him or her to show his/her face.  Yeah, anger can make us do a lot of foolish things, can’t it?

Today I felt that uneasy sensation come back.  That unsettling anxiety and feeling off-kilter.  Someone had been in our stuff, had made what felt safe and secure to us suddenly seem unsafe.  It broke my heart to see the six-year-old little girl in Aub’s eyes this afternoon–fearful all over again.  And mad.  They weren’t supposed to be able to get to us now.  How had this happened?  And then there was our Princess.  Her first time realizing that there’s some mean folks in this world.  She kept saying why would someone do that?  Why?  And, to keep it real, Cooter would pipe in with, “I’m the only one who didn’t get something stolen.”  Ummm, yeah, thanks buddy, keep that to yourself.  Please.

I kept thinking about Mama and how much I wanted to call and tell her about this.  And it was like she was on the other end of the line in my mind, saying how someone needed some praying for real bad.  Poor things, look at where their life had gotten to, taking things that weren’t theirs.  From a car parked at the entrance to a walking path.  Bless their hearts.  And then she’d probably point out how lucky we were that it wasn’t so much worse, to which I would respond sarcastically most likely because I wouldn’t be ready to hear THAT.  (We have conversations like this from time to time.  Still.) But in the end I’d probably say well, okay Mama you might be right.

And I guess I pegged the conversation pretty good. As much as I wanted to come home and hole up and be sad and depressed and mope for the rest of the weekend, Mess Cat wanted me to call her.  She had a Mama story to share.

One day they were on the way home in the car.  Out on the backroads where we live, you’ll pass folks walking from time to time.  Sometimes they’ll “white-line” it and other times they’ll get over on the grass when a car passes by, but on this particular day there was a fella who didn’t seem to be planning to do either one.  He just stayed in the road.  Mama made a comment like she wondered what was going on or something like that, and Mess Cat, being Mama’s girl and feeling protective, turned around and gave the man a dirty look.  He promptly made not one but two rather crude gestures with his hands.  Mess Cat said she’d never seen the gestures before that day, but judging from the look on his face, she was guessing it wasn’t good.

My sister told me that Mama just kept on driving and said, “Well my goodness, he sure is having a hard day to be acting like that.  I can only imagine what kind of day it has been for him. Poor fella.”

That.  That right there.  That’s my Mama.

When Mess Cat told me what Mama said (and sorry girl, I might not have gotten the story word for word), memories flooded back of Mama saying just such as that in different instances when I’d come in sharing the stories of the ugly comings and goings of folks.  She was just about always ready to give grace first and point fingers later (or usually not at all).

And so tonight as I think back over the day, I know that it was her voice that I was hearing when my heart went out to the person who desperately and quickly grabbed what they did from our car.  And it was her voice I heard when our Princess said, “I guess they must have really needed some money.”

I am thankful for a merciful robbery.  It really could have been so much worse.  I could still be on the phone right now calling and cancelling and so on.  I am so grateful that our Princess had a bounce in her step and a twinkle in her eye tonight before she went to sleep.  She will be okay again.  And I know it sounds superficial, but I’m glad they didn’t take Aub’s new GW Boutique Vera bag.  She was tickled to make such a find, and I’m glad that she didn’t lose it too.  I’m thankful for my sister to share stories with and to remember Mama  with and who will remind me of Mama’s wisdom when I need to hear it most.

It’s not been easy today, but I want to be like my Mama.  She was a GPS for grace–she’d show us the way to find it and give it and how to forgive and show compassion.  Her “coordinates” were spot on–there was no missing the direction she was pointing us in, because she was leading the way.  I want to give grace like that–grace that doesn’t make sense at all, today and everyday.  And I hope to show my children the way as well.  But most of all, no matter what else that person stole from us today, I don’t want to let him or her steal the joy of a fun-filled day with friends that are like family.  The beautiful day, time with folks we love, great conversations, laughter over our missteps, and the fun of being just where we were in the moment and not rushing to the next thing on the calendar.  That’s something that poor soul can’t take from me unless I let him.  If I do, then I’m the poor soul.  And I can’ t have that.  Nobody wants to go where those GPS pity pot coordinates will lead.  There’s for sure no treasure to be found there.

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Just in Case…..

Today a friend brought a beautiful walking stick to another friend.  “Here,” she said.  “You’re going to need it when you start geocaching.”

(That’s an outdoor activity where folks use a GPS or some other kind of navigation to hide and seek containers, “geocaches,” and then sign the logbook inside.)

“Really?” my other friend said.  “It’s beautiful.”  And it was.

20131002-210458.jpg“Yeah.  You need to make sure you use the stick to poke the cache before you reach down for it.”  We all looked up at her.  “Well, ’cause, you know, there might be a….cockroach down there.”

Ahem.  Or a snake?  I’m thinking that’s a yes too.

“And yeah, not sure which end is up.”  She laughed.  So just in case, here’s a picture of the other end.

20131002-205743.jpgOur friend, the beginning geocacher, said thank you again, and before leaving our friend said, “Well you know, just want you to be prepared.”

Prepared.  Where had I heard that already this week?  Ah yes.

Mess Cat was driving north up the Interstate Monday morning.  On one of those electronic signs that tells you the speed limit or how bad traffic is, she read “September is Preparedness Month.”  It is?  For what?  She called her other half, Leroy.  He had seen the sign on his way to Atlanta on Sunday.  He didn’t know what to make of it either. She queried further. “But don’t you wonder what it is we are supposed to be prepared for?  And aren’t you more than a little concerned that here it is, the END of September, and we’re just now hearing about this?  Seriously, what do folks know about October that we don’t know?”

That girl.  Cracks.  Me.  Up.

Be prepared.

Wouldn’t it be nice if carrying a big stick (and maybe speaking softly, thank you President Teddy Roosevelt) is all we needed to do to be prepared?  Or if we always carried flint and a knife and fishing hooks, we could be ready for anything including a surprise appearance on Survivor?  Or a $20 bill and a pack of gum for…..well, who knows when you might need the cash, and I think you can use gum for all kinds of amazing things…..or did I watch too much MacGyver?

I have bags I carry when we leave the house.  A few are pretty big–seriously, I get teased about them.  “I think you need a bigger bag.”  Tonight it consciously occurred to me why I tote such a big bag.

To be prepared.

I have one we call the Family Fun bag.  It literally has that embroidered on the side (came that way, can’t claim being creative or alliterative at all).  If we have a trip out planned, I find myself calling out, “Hey take this to the Family Fun bag.”  “Is your *insert book or game or epipen here* in the Family Fun bag?”  This bag comes in handy especially on the Tuesdays we are in Macon for Sister Circle or on Wednesdays that I have activities planned.   I like having a book and some knitting or crocheting project and a notebook and pen on hand in case I find myself with a few minutes to spare somewhere.  I keep a bag of pretzels too just in case.  The littles throw in an electronic game playing thingaroo and a book or two.  We recently added books on CD, because we really enjoyed the first one we listened to.  And I have the most precious little wipes case that someone covered in orange and brown argyle fabric and ribbon and I was lucky enough to find at the GW Boutique.  So yeah, wipes for whatever eventuality that may call for it.  And you’d be surprised how that varies and how often that happens.

I wonder why I worry so much about being prepared for whatever might come.  Is it because we’ve taken some hits we weren’t prepared for lately?  Or does it go further back than that?  Control issues, anyone?  (No thank you, I have plenty of my own already.)  Yes, I like thinking I can handle whatever comes along.  Even though I am fully aware that is NOT possible.  It could be that because I’m a kinesthetic or tactile learner (which basically means I need to touch it or actually do something to learn best), I need to have things I can touch to feel prepared.  Just “knowing” what to do isn’t enough.  At least not for me.  And I do find that I feel more in control of a situation, especially one involving the littles, if I have things to keep them learning or entertained.  It’s worth my time and energy to tote paper and markers just in case.  Oh those three words.  They stay with me–“just in case.”  So much of what I do is because of those three words.  Unplug, leave a note, pick up extra milk, start a load of laundry…..right down to what I pack in the Family Fun bag…..just in case we might need it.  In fact, my whole vehicle is the “just in case” mobile.  I have my rain boots and a first aid kit and a small box of Lego’s out there right now with a hairbrush and extra pair of clean socks..  You never know when you might need them.  Be prepared.  Just in case.

You’d think I was a Scout.  In actuality it’s quite possible I Just never gave up the diaper bag.  It’s only become more “sophisticated” and much, much heavier.  It still contains the wipes but for different reasons now.  The way I’m packing that Family Fun bag, I’m thinking my back would probably prefer the stick.  And besides, it is always good to have a stick.  You know, just in case.