Our son’s truck was stolen last fall. He and his sister live together in Eureka and attend College of the Redwoods. They both have jobs and juggle classes, work and social lives. Losing the truck put a crimp in their style, a hitch in their giddy-up not to mention it was a real buzz kill.
When your vehicle is stolen, a tidal wave of stuff to do descends and none of it will result in the getting back of said vehicle. But you have to do it anyway. You have to notify the police. They are nice and they take down numbers and descriptions and give you numbers in return, but none of it guarantees the return of your vehicle. You notify the insurance company and they find the guy in the company with the most lugubrious voice to handle your “case” and the upshot of the “case” is that your vehicle is too old to even bother with comprehensive insurance so, sadly, you won’t get any financial compensation for the loss. Never mind you just bought new tires for the truck and that you had hundreds of dollars worth of school books, tools and a stereo in the truck...none of that is covered. And yes, you did check your parent’s Homeowners Policy and nothing is covered even under that. If you lost your pet armadillo or your grandmother’s antimacassar, that would be covered but school books? Sadly, no.
You live and learn. You slump your shoulders appropriately when your incredulous parents ask why you left your graphing calculator in the vehicle and you take humble responsibility for not toting your forty-pound Statistics book out of the car after every class. You shoulder your remaining books and take the bus to school and endure a kind of humiliation when you make arrangements for your employer to pick you up for work on a Saturday. You get a bike, which is what you always intended to do anyway, and learn firsthand what it means to ride across town to meet Grandpa for 8:30 Mass on a bike stuck in high gear.
You really want to throttle the meth freak who stole your truck but you can’t and, what’s more, you shouldn’t…but still you have fantasies about finding the thief and the truck and exacting the kind of justice Odysseus exacted on the Cyclops after the brute ate his best men.
So it’s hard when your mom calls you up and tells you what advice someone else gave her about your stolen truck and the thief. It seems she told a friend about your troubles and the friend was appropriately sympathetic but then he said that rather than have fantasies about finding the thief
and blinding him you should...now sit down son and listen carefully, you should “pray” for him. Your mom’s voice is tinged with skepticism as she says this but you can tell she’s trying hard to be serious. You laugh just a little because this is the same mom who last week described in great detail what she’d like to see happen to the thief should he ever be brought to justice. Words like “Gitmo” and “water boarding” were used and you would swear on a stack of bibles she never mentioned “prayer” once.
So she tells you to pray for the guy. And she says she’s going to try to pray for him too, because—even though it makes the bile rise in your gut to admit it—a guy who runs around stealing from other people, is a guy in trouble and a guy in need of prayer.
The weeks fly by and the bus isn’t so bad and the bike is kind of fun and it’s Thanksgiving and your cousin’s beautiful wife is driving you to a family dinner in a neighboring town. As you pick up speed on Highway 101, what should pull out in front of your cousin’s car—heading quite possibly to a turkey dinner, too— but your old familiar pick-up truck. Sure it has different license plates, but you recognize it immediately and call the police who speed to the rescue, pull the truck over and do indeed determine—through the matching of VIN numbers—that the little truck is yours.
There’s a kind of victory thrill regaining possession of your truck and watching some hapless loser get handcuffed and thrown into the back of a cop car. For two months you have been stewing over this loss and, yes, trying to pray with a pure heart for the thief who so inconvenienced you—and here, on Thanksgiving Day, your truck is returned to you. Kind of a miracle, yes, but don’t make too much of it and risk the naysayers who insist on it all being a lucky coincidence that you just happened to spy your stolen truck in the highway throng of Thanksgiving Day traffic.
If nothing else, it’s a cautionary tale and as a young man, you are just beginning your own life story. God willing, you will have a long and interesting life. Your mother has a suggestion for the title of this chapter. She suggests, “Even if it makes your blood boil to do so, Pray.” There’s a reason she never got hired to write slogans. But still, it’s good advice.