“I need to clean out that drawer in the spare bedroom. It’s full of…no idea what all is in it.”
Mom uttered those words two months ago and for two long month’s I’ve been saying, “When are WE going to clean out that drawer in the spare bedroom??”
The answer was always “not today.” And, sometimes “maybe tomorrow” was added as an after thought.
Tomorrow came yesterday.
The drawer was carefully lifted from the chest of drawers and carried out to the patio and placed on the picnic table. It was full…heavy…loaded with a wide variety of…
For the next 4 hours, Daughter and I joined Mom on a short walk down memory lane as she touched things she’d not seen in years and read notes and cards she’d tucked away for another day.
The last thing Mom paused over was a small, clear plastic bag containing several small memo pads. As she leafed through them, I began the task of returning things to the drawer.
The memo pads were travel journals dating back 20 years or more. She read some excerpts and elaborated for us.
And, then, she leaned over and looked down between her knees (she was seated at the picnic table, on the bench) as though searching for something.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“My little red pencil,” she said. “It fell and I can’t find it.”
A little red pencil…I’d not seen a little red pencil. I looked at Daughter who sat across the table from her – she shrugged and shook her head. Apparently she’d not seen one either.
I leaned over and looked down between the edge of the picnic table and the bench. No red pencil there. I stooped and looked under the bench upon which she sat.
“Are you certain you had a little red pencil? I asked Mom.
The look she gave me was indication enough that there was indeed a little red pencil somewhere and I’d better get on my hands and knees and find it.
To my knees I dropped and under the bench I crawled. I questioned the existence of the little red pencil. I’d not seen it. She insisted it had fallen to the patio below her. So, why wasn’t I seeing it?? The obvious reason came to mind and I asked again.
“Are you certain you had a little red pencil? Today? Right here? A little red pencil??”
And, the reply I received was “YES!”
I didn’t see one and I said so.
Then she said, “It’s tiny. It’s a tiny, little red pencil with lead and it writes.”
A tiny little red pencil with lead…. Tiny red….
I adjusted my vision from macro to micro and began to look for the red needle in the haystack, so to speak.
And, there (THERE!) in the joint joining two sections of concrete partially hidden by a crumbled leaf was a TINY fleck of red.
I brushed the leaf away and there lay a perfect “tiny little red pencil with lead” – about two inches long and the width of a toothpick.
To see what was missing I had to adjust my vision and look for the unseen. I had to see the possibilities. And, I had to accept what I thought impossible as…possible. Focus had to be centered. I had to get down to the nitty-gritty. I had to believe in what I could not see.
So great was my mother’s belief in the unseen that I could not help but believe myself – even if only for her sake, even when I was a skeptic, even when I thought it impossible. Just because I didn’t see the little red pencil didn’t negate its existence.
It was there. I just had to look until I found it.
We all have something we’re searching for – a tiny little red pencil of a thing that we’ve heard of, read about, hope for, need desperately to find. That little red pencil is there – don’t give up the search.
Faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.