Silver Linings (Sarah Brandt)

“Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks no matter what.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 I drove to Purgatory Park for a hike in the autumn sunshine. It had been rainy and cold for several days and I had spent too many hours working inside that week. I yearned to hear my feet crunch the leaves, to feel the sunshine on my face and to feast my eyes on the splendor of the fall colors.

I was combining the stop at Purgatory Park with a trip to the pharmacy. I had a screening colonoscopy scheduled the following week, and I needed to pick up several items necessary for the low fiber diet and colon cleansing. I was dreading the procedure, but I had already postponed it due to COVID and needed to get it done. I wanted to get this errand done but I also wanted to get a hike in before dusk.

The walk was everything I imagined and more. I walked farther and longer than planned. I took a few moments to sit on one of the benches in the waning rays of sun, soaking it all in. The days were getting shorter and darker. The change from fall to winter was quickly approaching, and the park was especially crowded for a weekday afternoon. I had parked in the lot closest to Excelsior Boulevard because the larger lot was full.

As I approached my car, I noticed that a rear window was open. I hadn’t remembered opening it. As I walked closer, my shoes crunched on broken glass. Someone had broken into my car! The surprise turned to anger and frustration when I realized that I had not locked my wallet in the glove compartment this time. What a stupid mistake!

I reported the break-in and theft to the Minnetonka police department. As I waited for the police to arrive, a lovely, older couple who were parked next to me finished their walk. They stayed with me and made the effort to search along the slope and in the ditches for my bag in case the thieves threw any of my items away when they sped off. This couple was friendly and kind. They seemed in no hurry to leave. Their concern and caring was especially needed and appreciated during that exasperating moment in my life. The husband laughed when I apprised them about my looted colon cleansing shopping list. “Well, that might be as good a reason as any to postpone the colonoscopy,” he teased.

The officer arrived and the couple said goodbye to me. The police officer told me that another car in the larger parking lot had also been broken into and items stolen from that woman’s vehicle during the same time frame. He mentioned that these stealing sprees were happening more and more in this area. Another car drove into the lot and parked nearby. The driver shook his head and said the same thing had happened to him last winter. “I am sorry this happened to you. It is so infuriating!” he exclaimed as he rushed off to get his walk in before dark.

I drove home as the sun dropped in the western sky, my errand to the pharmacy abandoned. The cold air blasted through the space where the rear window had once been. As I sped up to 40mph on Excelsior Blvd, the thumping vibration added to my irritation. I knew I had a great deal of work ahead of me to repair the damage.

When I arrived home, my husband gave me a comforting hug. As we both made phone calls to banks and credit card companies, he asked me what else was in my purse. I told him about my stolen shopping list: Gatorade, Miralax, Dulcolax, magnesium citrate, etc. and the confiscated colon cleansing instruction sheets. A smile came to his face: “I bet the thieves weren’t planning on that treasure trove as part of their heist!”

As I waited on hold with Discover card, my thoughts drifted to the crooks. What made someone do what they had done? Were they on drugs? Had they lost their jobs during the pandemic? Were they really that bad off? One thought after another arose trying to make sense of it. Eventually, the other woman whose car had been broken into entered my mind. Was she ok? Had the people parked near her been as thoughtful as the sweet, kindhearted couple had been to me?

I felt horrible when this incident happened. I felt targeted, disappointed in myself, and angry. It has been challenging to “be joyful always and to give thanks no matter what.” As I recall that autumn afternoon, I can see that even in the unwanted, yucky events of life, there are silver linings. The silver-haired couple’s kindness along with the patient support of my husband are the silver linings.
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