There are some wonderful teaching stories in the Gospel, but occasionally you come across one that seems just a little far-fetched. One such story is the woman who lost one of ten coins inside her own home, and turned her home upside down in her efforts to find it. You find the story in Saint Luke’s Gospel (Luke 15, 8)
One evening during dinner in our residence, the word went around the tables that one of the kitchen staff had lost the diamond from her engagement ring. She had been searching for it all afternoon without success. Everybody was sympathetic, and hoped she would find it.
Before leaving the dining room I spoke with her, and saw that she was deeply affected by the loss. She had been keeping the ring carefully, and planned to give it to her daughter when she came of age. She showed me the ring, with the space for the missing diamond. The space was tiny, only about 5 millimeters long.
When I saw how much the ring meant to her, I quietly decided that I would return later when everyone was gone, and conduct a thorough search of the kitchen and dining room. Now the dining room is large enough to hold ten tables and a serving area, and the kitchen is almost similar in size. So I knew the chance of success was slim, looking for such a tiny object over such a wide area.
I returned a couple of hours later, armed with a flashlight, to conduct my search in every nook and cranny. I began in the dining room, planning to cover the entire perimeter where the wall and floor meet. I gave up in two minutes, realizing that even that first minor step was going to take me at least an hour or more.
At this point I realized I could not do this alone, so I turned to heaven for help. I remembered the woman in Saint Luke’s Gospel, and suggested that this would be a good time to make it happen for another woman distressed by her loss.
I now decided that the kitchen was the place to begin, and that the wash-up area was where a diamond would most likely become separated from its ring. But the area was so complicated, and had so many obstacles I decided to look for a smaller spot to begin.
The smallest independent area in the kitchen was a small washroom, with a hand-basin and a few brooms and dust-pans leaning against the wall. As I entered, I was annoyed to notice a glass splinter glinting in the carpet. Obviously a glass had broken, and not all the pieces had been cleaned up.
I knelt down to pick up the splinter, carefully because I knew the sharp edges could be unforgiving. I picked it with the forefinger and thumb of my right hand, and dropped it gently into the palm of my left hand.
At that point I noticed that the splinter had no sharp edges, but was perfectly smooth. I noted that it was about 5 millimeters long, and as I turned it over in my hand it sparkled brilliantly in the light. I knew then the search was over. It was like finding the needle in the haystack without disturbing a single straw.
My total time spent in searching was barely five minutes. In fact it ended about two minutes after I applied to heaven for help. I put the diamond into a transparent plastic box I had brought for the purpose, and I had the pleasure of presenting it to its owner the next morning.
She was wordless with joy, and then she asked me where I found it. I told her simply, “I didn’t find it. I was led to it”. Then I explained to her that she has a Father in heaven who cares for her so much that he wanted her to have the lost diamond that meant so much to her. There was no other way to explain the immediate success of an impossible search.
As a result I will be more respectful towards Gospel stories, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.