Last year, I lost track of a large linen cloth that was intended to drape over an easel for the display of icons in church. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Mindful of a childhood prayer to St. Anthony to help find a lost object, I turned to him. St. Anthony, I said, if I find this cloth, I’ll make an icon for you. Later, the thought came to me to look in my clothes dresser. And sure enough, there it was, folded up and forgotten at the bottom of a drawer. I was grateful to have found it, and began to mentally plan this icon of the saint . . . but time passed, and I gradually forgot about my rather desperate promise to the good saint of Padua.
While at the Abbey last week, I lost the backing button to an angel pin. I looked all over my room, the entry hall and steps, on the path around the ponds outside my building (which I had to myself), in the places where I had prayed that day in church. Nothing. I resigned myself to buying a replacement when I returned home, and thought sheepishly of St. Anthony and my forgotten promise. Sorry, I mumbled, I owe you an icon, don’t I. I didn’t have the nerve to ask him again this time, but I did, even though it was a small thing.
The next day, I was headed out for a walk, and there, in the entry hallway, in plain sight, on the bare smooth carpet in the middle of the floor, was the backing button. Shining gleaming gold under the overhead lamplight, obvious, right in front of me. I could swear that it wasn’t there before, that I had looked there and everywhere the day before. My intellect tells me that of course I must have just missed it, that I walked right over it. Just a trick of the light. I wonder, though. Really. How did that thing get there?
I think I definitely owe St. Anthony an icon!