I was talking to my old friend “Maria” last week. She was lamenting the fact that she cannot find her topaz necklace.
It’s a beautiful stone, she said. She has looked in every hiding place she and her husband can think of.
I told her not to give up. Maybe the saints can help.
It was a strange suggestion coming from a Protestant, so let me explain. Earlier this year, I discovered that my cache of “good jewelry” was missing. Not cheap costume stuff. There was plenty of that lying around. No, these items involved precious stones and 14 K gold—pieces that I hope to hand down to family members someday.
The last place I’d seen the jewelry was at the dining room table, sorting pieces that had become tangled. In the cache was an opal ring that’s too delicate to wear every day, a necklace my father gave me after he went on an overseas trip, my sorority pin, my engagement ring. I’d lost it all.
In early February, when I realized the pieces were missing, I dove into search mode, checking all the obvious places and the non-obvious ones: cabinets, closets, the deep freeze.
I checked my safety deposit box. Nothing.
I searched every purse I own, carefully peering into the zippered compartments. I rifled through the luggage.
The thing about losing treasured possessions is that the loss never really leaves your conscience. It remains like a nagging toothache as you drift off to sleep and as you wake up in the morning. It goads you to mentally scan every nook of the house while you take a shower, vacuum the floor, fold laundry.
I tried to trick myself into thinking maybe I imagined the whole thing. I would peek inside my jewelry box there everything would be. This had all been a bad dream like in some cheesy sitcom.
After a few weeks of befuddlement, I started mentioning my frustration to friends and relatives. Sympathy might help. Maybe they could suggest places to look.
“You’ll eventually find it,” my cousin said.
Easy for her to say.
Maybe I was getting to be like my aunt when her memory began to slip. She claimed that staff members were breaking into her apartment and stealing things, which was unlikely. She was missing family history files and emails.
If I could sleep on it, that might help, except I’d already “slept on it” for months All that did was keep me awake. If all else failed, maybe I could be hypnotized, maybe hire a psychic.
My son said the problem was that I have too many hiding places.
He was absolutely right. How many times had I said “I know where it used to be in the old house”?
Every time after I’d cleaned out closets and reorganized, actually.
I checked my vehicle to make sure my lost pieces weren’t left inside the armrest or in the glove box or under the seats. Crazy, I know.
For a while I wondered if I’d placed the things in a box and somehow mistook it for trash. Maybe my treasures were in the Blackburn landfill.
In the world of self-torment, this situation was fast turning into a Rubix cube or one of those metal knot puzzles I hated in elementary school. Or me, trying to unknot the fine chain of a necklace with two sewing needles as I was doing last fall, when all this started.
On Sunday, I decided it was time for intervention, and St Christopher was my guy.
Within minutes of asking for help, I envisioned a book safe. Yes, of course! I’d bought one and but hadn’t seen it lately. Then I “saw” the book shelf near the TV. I rushed to the living room and sure enough, there was my missing jewelry in the hollow “book,” where it had been since October.
I shared this story with Maria, who was raised Catholic.
“Did you pray to St. Anthony?”
No, to Christopher, I said.
It was then I realized my mistake. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, not lost objects.
My cousin, who predicted that I’d eventually find my jewelry, wondered if I’d asked the saint of lost causes to help.
“No, that’s St Jude,” I said. I knew that from his association with the research hospital in Memphis. “Turns out St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.”
“Anthony? Isn’t he the one you bury in the yard to sell your house?”
Yes, I’d read about that. To sell a house more quickly, a Joseph statue is to be buried upside down, 12 inches deep near the For Sale sign. It’s unclear how this custom began, but it’s been a thing since about 1990.
I checked Amazon. One can buy St. Joseph Home Sale kits for $4.99, while a tandem kit of Joseph and Jude (extra-challenging properties, obviously) can be had for $7.99. Saints do indeed work together.
So, did St. Christopher team up with St. Anthony?
All I know for sure is that after searching and stewing over it for months, I asked for help and solved the mystery in minutes.
Call it mind over matter, an interesting coincidence or divine intervention. I’m glad it’s over.