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St. Anthony intervention or not, finding my wedding ring was a Christmas gift beyond measure

Wedding Ring Woster.jpg

For two weeks I looked for my wedding ring.

I knew it was somewhere in the house. I just didn’t know where.

I looked. I looked. I looked. And I worried. And then I looked some more.

I really didn’t want to lose that ring. Sure, there were replacement options. Mary suggested maybe I could get a ring tattoo, thus eliminating the possibility of losing another wedding ring.

Not a terrible idea, except that I’m not a tattoo guy.

I could go without a ring. My commitment to Mary is solid as gold. It doesn’t need a circle on my finger to prove it.

Or, of course, I could buy another gold band. But it wouldn’t be the gold band I wore on July 8, 2002, as Mary and I stood before the altar in the Lady’s Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral and spoke our wedding vows, during a regular daily mass celebrated by my cousin Monsignor Michael Woster.

OK, it wasn’t quite a regular daily mass. It was the mass regularly scheduled each day at 5:30 p.m. But our wedding ceremony made that particular 5:30 mass a lot more than regular.

And not just to Mary and me, or to our families.

“I was there that day,” state Supreme Court Justice Janine Kern said this past July 8th, after Mary and I received a blessing from Father Ed Witt on our 20th wedding anniversary following noon mass at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in North Rapid City.

Those attending that mass at Isaac Jogues also took part in the blessing, including Justice Kern. She is a regular noon-mass worshipper at Isaac Jogues. And she happened to be there on our 20th anniversary, just as she happened to be at the not-at-all-regular 5:30 mass at the cathedral 20 years earlier.

Aren’t such coincidences delightful — presuming, of course, that they are just coincidences.

We’ve had other people surprise us over the years by proclaiming “I was at your wedding,” when we didn’t realize they were there and in some instances didn’t know them at all.

Of course, there were many there we did know and love, including family and friends.

It was a special day, and I wore that gold band joyfully that day and pretty much every day to come for more than 20 years, unless there was a pretty good reason to take it off. You know, washing the dishes, cleaning a fish or pheasant, doing some home repair work with tools that could be dangerous with a ringed finger involved.

Wait, scratch that last one. As you probably know, I never do home repair work, with or without potentially dangerous tools. Mary always takes her wedding ring off when she does, however.

Anyway, it’s kind of funny that I worried so much about my ring being lost. I’m not a jewelry guy, after all. I don’t have any chains or earrings or other finger rings or even a wristwatch. Just the one piece of jewelry — the one that is so much more than that.

And I lost it. I lost it. Which I’d never done before, in more than 20 years. Sure, there were misplacements, but they were always short term. I’d backtrack and figure out where I’d left the ring pretty quickly. There were a half dozen reliable places where it could be found. And it always was.

This time was different. This time I backtracked and searched and worried and wondered, and did the same thing day after day, a little bit or a lot each day, for two weeks. I searched all the possible places, and many that probably weren’t possible. Just in case.

My next step was St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost and stolen items. As the Catholic story goes, someone stole a book of Psalms from Anthony, who wasn’t a saint at the time, of course. When Anthony prayed for the return of the book, it was returned.

I know people who have had pretty good luck praying to St. Anthony. And who am I to argue with success? But while the idea intrigues me, I haven’t been much of a follower of that ritual over the years, when I’ve lost something.

Considering the state of the world and the variety of desperate human needs, did I really want to use my prayers for the return of a material item? Well, maybe, since this was a very important material item with value far beyond its material worth.

So I thought about praying to St. Anthony, and forgot about it, and thought about it, and forgot. I was in one of the forgetting stages when I was sitting on this chair in front of this keyboard and computer screen two days ago, when I turned to glance out the window of the den. As I turned, I noticed a tiny glint from something peeking up from the edge of the cushion in our leather recliner.

I pushed my chair over to the recliner and leaned forward to peer down at what turned out to be a tiny part of my wedding ring.

“My ring!” I cheered, digging it out from the recliner. “Hallelujah! The lost is found!”

I don’t know if I actually prayed to St. Anthony. And I don’t know if thinking about praying to St. Anthony is the same thing as praying to Saint Anthony. And I don’t know if St. Anthony had anything to do with it.

What I do know is that a few days before Christmas, I got a gift with value beyond estimation: the only piece of jewelry I have, or want.

Oh, Merry, Merry Christmas!

Click here to access the archive of Woster's past work for SDPB.