On July 23, 2013, on a gray day in San Francisco, in the shadow of the Peace Pagoda on Geary Boulevard, my briefcase was stolen out of the backseat of our rental car.
We came back from eating a memorable bento dinner in Japantown to find the back passenger window not shattered but exploded. Gone was my briefcase and our black Coleman lunch bag that looked enticingly like a camera bag. Gone was $2,894.70 (est.) worth of personal belongings.
Among the stolen items were:
- A Sony DSC-P100 digital camera, a mutual gift for our 25th anniversary
- A small brown leather notebook which I had been carrying since 2004
- My personal journal, volume 41, with entries from April 2013 to July 2013
- A copy of The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister
I have often wondered what the thief did with The Infinite Atonement. Did he thumb through it? Is it sitting on his bookshelf, with the bookmark still on (approximately) page 60? Did he sell it on eBay? Or is it in some landfill 100 miles from where it was plinked?
It wasn’t in the budget to replace that book, at least not until a few weeks ago. A kind coworker gave me a gift certificate to Deseret Book as a birthday gift. I used that gracious gift card to purchase another copy of The Infinite Atonement, a better edition than the original copy. I picked up where I left off and am now on page 76.
It took four months, but now, as far as The Infinite Atonement is concerned, everything is in order. In fact, it is now in better shape than when I “gave away” my copy in July.
All it took was patience—a critical kind of faith—a dash of good humor, time, and grace.
My wife told me that in Relief Society this week a woman spoke up about how anxious she was about driving on the freeway. Her brother overheard this and told her, “You don’t understand the atonement. You need to study the atonement.” Which she did and now driving on the freeway is much easier for her.
That’s the miracle of the atonement. It covers all human suffering, all mortal frailty. Even a lost book. It is a narrow bridge that crosses the deep chasm fixed between this life and the next.