Revelations: Searching for luck in all the wrong places
When I was a girl, I would scour my elementary playground - at the top of every weekday noon hour - searching for that elusive four-leaf clover.
It was the task of a child, playing in the dirt, running her small fingers in the grass in between sliding and running and swinging with school friends.
I remember how I'd inevitably find multiple three-leaf clovers and turn to my friends pretending I'd discovered the real thing. We'd make wishes and carry them around for good luck until they were lost or stuck in my pockets, never to be seen again.
Even into adulthood, I never shed the idea of how wonderful it would be to find a four-leaf clover. So if I saw a patch of Irish clover-looking grass somewhere - anywhere - I'd take a moment for a quick scan of the leaves.
In all the years I searched, I never found one.
It's not that I needed the luck or believed shamrocks had actual powers of sorcery and conjuration; I just liked the idea of being the lottery winner, finding the needle in the haystack and reaping a reward - in this case, good luck - just because I took the initiative to search.
I guess I always assumed that one day, I'd find my four-leaf clover, but I could hardly fathom that it was be a gift from inmate, and the clover would be found in a Texas prison yard.
I've written in the past about my prison fans. I get letters regularly from Texas inmates, many of whom share their faith walks with me.
One inmate, Eric, writes occasionally, and this week, I received another letter from him.
He told me he understood why I didn't write him back but that he enjoyed writing me and sharing the life lessons he's learning behind bars.
In this particular letter, he said an inmate friend of his was out in the yard and stumbled upon several four-leaf clovers. His friend gave him one - for luck - and to pay the gesture forward, Eric folded up the clover and mailed it to me.
To me - a stranger, a byline, a small picture next to a column that he reads each week in a newspaper.
He never could have known how many hours I've spent in my life fruitlessly searching for four-leaf clovers. And to see one fall out of the pages of his letter on my desk, well, it may as well have been a $1,000 bill.
I figured, somehow, God might be trying to get my attention.
In that moment, I suddenly wanted to know everything there was to know about the history of this iconic green weed associated with Irish leprechauns and rainbows and pots of golden coins.
I decided to do some digging and learn the story behind the four leaves of luck.
All these years, I never knew shamrocks were religious symbols of faith.
My research explained that St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrocks as a representation and metaphor for the Holy Trinity.
The three-leafed clovers apparently represent faith, hope and love, and if you find one with a fourth leaf, it represents luck as well as God's grace.
No wonder everyone wants to find one, right?
I'm sure there's much more to know about these little clovers.
But Eric's letter and shamrock gift reminded me this week, in the most entertaining way possible, that God has always been in my soul and the backdrop of my conscience, even before I had any understanding or notion of the divine.
It also reminded me that when we can't seem to find what we're searching for, maybe we should stop trying to search for it on our own and wait for God to bring it to us directly - priority mail.
Thank you, Eric, for my letter and lucky clover.
Here's to our good fortune and many blessings from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jennifer Preyss is the faith editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.