Lost and Found
by Robert Wright
We are a forgetful lot, inattentive to boot, traits that do not age well. A favorite scarf, a wallet, a ring of keys, missing after a shopping tryst prompts a panicked call or return to the stores visited. A courteous person transfers you and your concern to Lost and Found, that ubiquitous function of large retail establishments, a locked room of found things, managed with feigned sympathy, “Can you describe it, please?” lest one intentionally benefit from the forgetfulness of others.
If not our things, we, ourselves, have become lost, locked down, huddled, awash in the coronavirus storm outside our windows, our front door, or sinisterly hidden in others we must keep at safe distance, beyond touches, hugs and kisses. Protective masks cut off the instinctive needed facial communication that has been with us since primordial times. Fortunately, our eyes, the mirrors of our souls, peering over masks, remain a lifeline of human contact as the storm rages around us.
Over two centuries ago, one John Newton, a dastardly sort of Englishman, fearfully hunkered below decks as he clung to the wooden beams and ribs of a storm-tossed sailing ship off the coast of Ireland. So violent the storm he feared for his life and cried out to God for mercy. For John Newton much mercy was needed. He was involved in the Atlantic slave trade despite his Christian upbringing. That storm-tossed night marked the start of his conversion from participating in one of the purest forms of evil to becoming a fervent abolitionist. This led him down a different path, to his ordination in the Church of England and his penned sermon that was later put to music and became an immensely popular hymn: Amazing Grace. Embedded in the opening stanza are his powerful words that defined the transition of his life, “I once was lost but now I'm found.”
Regardless of our very personal spiritual or religious beliefs, John Newton’s words reach out and touch us in a different way – we once had lost something fundamental, taken for granted, but have found it – the sincere realization of our need for human contact. In a perverse way, the coronavirus storm has led us to a greater appreciation of this most fundamental aspect of our lives. It has many dimensions, as varied as each of us: family gatherings, tipping a pint with mates at a favorite pub, morning coffee with friends at Starbucks, strolling with others in the summer shade of a park.
When normal returns, we will embrace and savor these things as never before, things that once were lost, but now are found.
About the Author
Robert Wright was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Following two careers: Air Force and one in Washington DC, he turned to writing in retirement, self-publishing books, family histories and newspaper essays