Tachycardia is a dangerously rapid heartbeat, arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat and dead is no heartbeat at all — and I had all three recently.
That may be a slight exaggeration and a bit of melodrama, but the truth is I experienced severe panic recently.
I lost my camera.
And by “my camera” I mean the one the Chronicle gave me to use and not mine to keep.
I got it back, but for about 40 minutes my heart raced and flip-flopped and stopped beating (if only in my imagination) because I thought it was gone, forever into oblivion, gone, gone, gone.
I had it with me when I got on the plane to Washington, D.C. with the World War II veterans I was traveling with because I took their pictures. I had it the whole day I was in D.C. because I took pictures, and I took pictures once we returned to the airport in Clearwater.
After I left the airport I got into a cab to take me less than five miles away to a restaurant where I was to meet my husband.
Paid the cab driver, greeted the husband. Kiss, kiss, blah, blah. Want to see my pictures, I asked.
Tired, yet wound up from a long day of travel, I opened my purse to get the camera that hadn’t been out of my reach all day and it. Was. Not. There.
I panicked. I prayed, but I still panicked.
Not only was the camera not mine, but it had photos on it from my trip with the veterans that I needed and couldn’t retake.
While I panicked I walked around in circles in the restaurant and asked a waitress for a phone book — I concluded I took the camera out of my purse to reach the $10 bill I had tucked away for cab fare.
Someone got the cab company number for me and I called, most likely rambling incoherently to the poor woman who answered the phone.
Thankfully she took pity on me, put me on hold and called all her drivers and asked who had driven a crazy lady from the St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport to the nearby Beef O’Brady’s. Since there had been only one, he called in, said he found my camera on the seat and within 10 minutes delivered it to me.
And the angels sang!
I gave him twice the fare amount and thanked him profusely. I may have even offered him my firstborn. I know I cried with relief and gratitude mixed with tiredness and slight insanity. (He looked scared as he left.)
My heart returned to its regular rhythm and all was and is well.
However, for that brief time, all was not well. I had lost something important and during its time of lostness it was all I could think of. All I wanted was to find it. I was hungry, thirsty and tired, but how could I eat, drink or sleep until it was found?
Jesus told stories about lost things. In the Bible when something is repeated it’s God saying, “Listen up y’all — this one’s important. Take notes.”
One story was about a lost sheep and another about a lost coin. He talked about the extent the shepherd goes to find just one lost sheep, even leaving his flock of 99 others to retrieve it — it’s that precious to him.
The woman who lost her coin lights a lamp, sweeps her house clean and doesn’t stop searching until she finds it — and then calls all her friends and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin!” (Luke 15:9).
I’m with you, sister. I feel your joy.
However, Jesus wasn’t talking about sheep and coins, but about us, and not so much about our lostness as about God’s intense focus on finding us. While he’s not wringing his hands, walking in circles and rambling on the phone to cab company dispatchers, he wants his lost children found.
As badly as I wanted to find my camera, how much more does God want his children safely home with him? The Bible says the angels sing when one sinner repents.
Losing my camera and then having it returned to me gave me a glimpse into how God might feel about us. It’s good to be found!
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at (352) 564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at email@example.com.