Light My Fire

Posts 04

Have you ever lost something important?  Your car keys? Passport? Wallet?  Sanity? It’s a terrible feeling, or at least it is for me. I lost my son in London.  I hesitate to admit that.  I am typically a very organized and responsible person.  I don’t like losing things, and I really hate it when I lose people.  I say “people” because this has actually happened more than once.  You’d be surprised at how quickly this can happen when you are trying to keep up with 4 kiddos.  This is why I have a habit of counting: kids in the car, kids in line, kids tucked in safely every night.  There may be safety in numbers, but there is comfort in the right numbers.


My family was on vacation and just wrapping up the day with our tour guide.  He was leaving us in an area of London called Covent Gardens.  It was full of shops and restaurants and people. I gathered our group of 6 together and then turned to talk to the tour guide.  We were making plans for the next day.  I said, “goodbye” and then turned to the kids.  One, two, three… Uh oh.  There should be four.  Adrenaline shot through my body at the idea of a lost child.  Where is my son?  He was just right there beside me.  He is 11 years old and knows better than to run off.  I quickly scan the crowd to no avail.  Then his sister took off.   “Wait! Where are you going? Where is he?”  She extended her arm and pointed her finger. “He’s over there, in the show!” Now I am really confused.  The show?  I look up and scan farther in the distance.  There he is.  In the middle of a street show.  I can’t make this stuff up.  He has somehow (in the space of approximately 2 minutes) gotten himself engaged as a volunteer for a performer.  He was quite pleased with himself and even from a distance I could see that he was smiling with his whole face.


I breathe a sigh of relief as I make my way to the front of the crowd that has gathered around.  I can see him and he is safe.  Sort of.  The performer describes the trick he is about to perform.  Now, before I explain this, I should let you know that my son is quite accident prone.  He falls off swing sets, crashes his bike with regularity, and attempts daring physical feats which sometimes land us in the nearest urgent care clinic.  My last words to him as he is on his way outside are typically, “Be careful.”  So, I was not overly enthusiastic about what was happening.  The trick was explained as follows:  I am going to put a match in your mouth and you will hold it with your teeth.  I am going to take this yo-yo and do loop-de-loops in front of your face and I’m going to light the match with the yo-yo.  Hold still.

Hold still.  While this guy swings a yo-yo at your face. Right.  Now I am holding still and holding my breath as the action starts. I am mentally questioning how I get him to a dentist should the obvious problem occur.  I am watching and excited for him (I mean, what a memory to have from vacation!) but I am planning for worst case scenario.  And, really, isn’t this so representative of life in general?  Things don’t go according to plan.  Some of us love that excitement.  Some of us start making contingency plans.  It is good to be prepared for emergencies, but too much of a good thing can be destructive.


It is this conundrum that often gets me lost.  I am a planner at heart.  I’m the stereotypical oldest child/ type A/ likes to control my environment type of girl. I love calendars and to-do lists, routines and traditions.  These qualities are often helpful, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how it can get quickly out of control.  Some people get lost in the moment, totally enthralled with the immediate.  I am on the other end of the spectrum, and I get lost outside of the moment.  I’m too busy anticipating the next step.  Partly, it’s the misguided belief that if I have an action plan (for the imaginary bad thing) that I will be ok.  Partly it’s the fact that taking action makes me feel in control when things feel out of control.  I am guilty of bypassing my own joy.


I spend too much time being lost.  It’s good to have plans for emergencies.  This is why we practice fire drills and teach our kids what to do if a stranger approaches them.  But worrying about what-ifs and could-haves will wear us down.  It robs us of rest and contentment.  It distracts from giving and receiving love.  I almost missed the moment of the match lighting because I was cringing to watch the performance.  Thank goodness for open eyes!  My son’s face lit up brighter than the match.  My family made a precious memory.  He made five pounds.


I lost my son in London. Just for a minute.  But I found my joy. That moment, that one brief moment, sparked a flame that continues to burn brightly.  We are given many gifts in this life.  Accept them with a grateful heart.  You may be lost, but you are not alone. It’s never too late to reconnect with our blessings and appreciate the love that surrounds us.  Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Accept the gifts you have been given.  And, should you run into someone who is lost, help them out with a smile, a kind word, and light for their path.


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

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  1. Mom says:

    As always, a heart warming true story with insight that leaves us thinking!

  2. Gigi says:

    I give it 5 stars. I enjoy all the things you write about and how you describe them.

  3. Jamie says:

    Wonderfully said! Great story! I lost Olivia in a store a few months ago, I was in a panic screaming her name through the store, most people were looking at new like I was crazy and one lady stopped to help me find her. She had wandered off looking for me and had made her way to the front of the store all the way from the back. I was never so glad to see that kid!

  4. Mary Ellen Volansky says:

    Flip side: I was four and I went across the street from my Aunt’s home to play in the park, I’d played there a lot with my older cousin. When I was done playing, I walked out of the park toward the street and found myself lost.

    It was not the street I’d walked in from. I walked to a small parking lot in front of a small restaurant, as it had a car just like my Parents’ car. But, it wasn’t their car. I walked around hoping to find my Aunt’s home.

    Finally a woman asked me if I was lost. I said, yes. She told me she would call the police. I told her was, ok to call the police but, not the cops (cops were for bad guys).

    The Police came, placed me, standing, on the front seat between the two officers – that was how small I was. They drove around hoping I would recognize my Aunt’s home and eventually, I did. And, there was my parents car in front.

    The officers drove up along side their car. My parents were inside and ready to drive off. The Officers passed through the two car windows to my Dad, I was glad to be safe, well safer.

    When I was settled my parents told me they were just getting ready to go look for me. My reply: “I’m glad you didn’t, you would have gotten lost too.”

    That is one of my best childhood memories and a good lesson about venturing off into the world and about feeling safe in the world.

    • Amy Chastain says:

      Mary Ellen, I love this story. They could call the police, but not the cops…lol! Thanks for sharing.

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