I stared into the white froth of the river as the water tumbled over the jumble of rocks and debris and raced under the bridge. Tears gathered and slid down my face and into the torrent below. An instant of carelessness and inattention: that is all; a look at the river, a laugh, a shake of the head, and my glasses were gone.
It was no more than a city creek, but heavy with spring run-off. And my glasses were in it. I stared through amblyopia and myopia into the plunging swirl and saw nothing. After a moment, I scrambled down the bank and into the water, bending, reaching, feeling, bracing my nine-year-old body against the current. The churning and bubbling of the water made it impossible to see anything. My blind groping in the cold and wet was useless. The glasses were gone.
Finally I climbed back to the sidewalk and stood dripping and crying, gathering the courage to go home and tell my parents that I had once again cost them money.
Forty minutes later, Mother and I stood together where I had stood alone. “Did you see where they fell?”
I pointed to the spot—a white whirlpool of water, stones, and sticks.
“Did you look?” she continued.
“I got into the water. That’s why I’m wet, Mom. But there wasn’t any way to find them. Look at it—you can’t see anything in there, and the water’s going so fast they might be at the gravel pit by now.” I was still sobbing, surrendering to my emotions. I hated to be in trouble, and I was in trouble a lot. I hated to lose things, and I lost things all the time. Dad said I was the only kid in Logan who could clean his room in the morning and lose his bed by lunch. And I dreaded telling Dad.
Dad worked hard to support his family. In early summer, he sold garden seeds over a three-state route out of the back of a ’53 Buick. In August, he supervised teenage pickers in the bean fields. The rest of the year, he taught school. Our budget wasn’t built to withstand my constant assaults.
“Ted . . .”
I looked at her again.
“Did you pray?” she asked.
I had not. I knew the formalities of prayer and I went through them regularly, but I did not expect answers. What answers were there for things like “Heavenly Father, bless the missionaries,” or “Bless the poor and the sick and the needy and the afflicted,” or “Help me to be a good boy today?” I guessed God took care of the missionaries and watched over the unfortunate, but I never seemed to manage to be a good boy, and I never expected answers.
“Come on, Teddy,” she said. “Hold my hand. Will you ask Heavenly Father to help us?”
I took her hand as I looked at her. Her eyes were already closed, and in my heart, a voice whispered, “She gets answers.” I felt something small and warm. I bowed my head and squeezed my eyes shut.
“Heavenly Father, I lost my glasses. Daddy can’t afford new ones and I need them to see good and do good, do better, in school. Will you please help us find them? Name of Jesus, Amen.”
Mom gave me a pat on the bottom. I climbed down the bank again and waded into the water to the spot where the glasses had disappeared. I plunged in my hand and grasped a handful of sticks. After a moment’s hesitation, I drew them from the water and examined them. My glasses were there, secured by the temple among the twigs and rubble.
The small, warm thing in me grew then as I stood in the water. It grew and became a shining certainty, saying in me what my mother had so often said: “God hears; God answers.”
And they shall teach their children to pray (D&C 68:28) - by Ted Gibbons