“Hi Emily, this is Hyun-Jin from South Korea. Do you remember me still? I was really good friends with you… and I really want to contact with you…”
So the voicemail started.
It was an ordinary day and she was the last person I’d expected to call. Remember her still? Of course I remember her!
I remember the time she burst into tears because she was sick of roast chicken on Sundays. When she asked me why British people lied on a daily basis when they said ‘I’m fine’ even if they weren’t. When she correctly, and proudly, identified sarcasm (I take full credit for that). When she laughed and cried her way through a culturally-stretching year in England. When she, Ana, and I backpacked our way around Scotland like a little UN delegation on a Proclaimers-playing minibus.
I remember her and that bygone era most days, and for years have felt sad that the emails bounce. That I don’t have a phone number. That she doesn’t even seem to be on Facebook in spite of regular checks. Like the silver coin that rolled into the corner, or the sheep that had meandered into the wilderness, I knew that the only way to find her was for her to find me first. I longed for that moment.
It had all the makings of a good sermon illustration. I was the coin. The sheep. The prodigal. Dependent on the searching initiative of someone else.
But when I finally heard Jin’s voice again, I realised that this illustration made a different point to the one I’d expected. I had a tangible reminder of the fact that it isn’t just the finder who does the celebrating and who calls all their friends over for a party.
As we spoke on the phone, and as the lost years evaporated away, I realised that I’d totally forgotten the uncontainable joy of being found.