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An Open Book: A Lucky Day

on September 28, 2017 - 7:23am

Los Alamos

The house had sold, most things were packed, and we had a place to live in faraway Los Alamos. Remaining on our to-do list was to finally visit those tourist sites we had always postponed for some time later. On our list was the Lowell National Historical Park, so we packed up the kids, 4, 6, and 8 years old on a beautiful fall morning in New England, and made the short drive to the shores of the Merrimack River, where some of the earliest textile mill buildings of the American Industrial Revolution had been restored.

My first exposure to a National Historical Park, we enjoyed the ranger bringing to life the long rows of young women working the looms. The giant water wheel looming above us began to slowly spin in our imagination, turning the silent power of the mighty Merrimack into the noisy clatter of machinery that eventually produced fabric for shirts and pants and draperies headed for lands near and far. But visiting museums with small children is an exercise in careful time management. Wisely, we didn’t stay too long and left time for a nice walk and picnic to finish the day.

We people-watched and chatted about our new adventure as we walked the wooded park nestled between the museum and the river, playing run-and-stop games to keep the kids occupied and tire them a little until we found a place to lay out our picnic blanket. As we settled on a large stretch of clover that had triumphantly conquered territory from the dominant lawn grass, we explained about new schools and new friends, about mountains and canyons, about deserts and little towns. I remember the clover field before us because, as I always do, I looked for the elusive harbinger of good luck among those thousands of clover shoots.

To feel the warmth of good fortune sometimes requires conscious effort. To one who is hungry, a meager morsel may be a clear blessing and eagerly appreciated, but to one who already has much, sometimes it is necessary to look more intensely to appreciate one’s treasure. As I sat down to eat with my young family, an exciting quest ahead of us, I felt indeed a moment to treasure, one that still resonates decades later. I did not say a word of gratitude to my Maker for that blessing, but I did get a heavenly signal in the form of discovering my first, and only, four-leaf clover.

There is a Jewish tradition that the bush that beckoned Moses in the wilderness had been burning since Creation, and indeed, Moses and many other shepherds passed it by many times but not noticed its special nature. It was only when Moses looked closely that he saw that bush among all the others, and it was only as he realized of his presence in front of a miracle, that God spoke to him. And so, blessings are sometimes in front of us, waiting for us to acknowledge and draw joy from them. How delightful when we do see them, and yet I wonder how many of them have passed silently by while I have looked in a different direction. I am sure that there were many other four-leaf clovers in front of me over the years, but to find one, one must first be mindful of the search, and it is sad to acknowledge that singular moments have passed without special recognition.

I remember the museum and that walk, I remember running with the kids, the picnic, the anticipation of an unfolding adventure, because that four-leaf clover in my hand awoke me. Through its lucky visit, the clover punctuated the day so that I can still reminisce about it so many years later. But what does one do with a lucky clover in your hand, on a beautiful and blessed day? It twirled between my fingers for a while before I put it back among its sisters for someone else to discover. I wanted that someone else to also be wakened to a joyful moment, and there was no need for me to keep it.

I was lucky enough for the day.