A Long Time Gone

On June 10, 1991, a man in the Lake Tahoe area watched as his 11-year-old daughter hurried to catch a school bus, at a bus stop just a block from their home. He heard her scream. He looked up to see her grabbed and dragged into a stranger’s car, and for 18 years he did not see her again.

I read the story of her abduction in the newspaper, here in Santa Barbara. I remember I thought it was shocking, terrible, that her family must be heartbroken, destroyed. I remember thinking other things, including that the poor child was probably already in Heaven.

Back in those days, I kept an icon corner in my home, as many Orthodox Christians do. I cut out the girl’s photo and placed it with my icons, to remind myself to pray for her. This is the photo I had, I think, though it was grayscale and grainy. In time, I lost it or tucked it into a book … I don’t know.

I wonder how many other people out there – besides her family – were praying for little Jaycee Dugard.

I hope her road of recovery will not be too hard or too long, but I suspect the rest of her life, her children’s lives, her family’s lives, will be dedicated to that journey. And that’s not fair.

The news that’s coming out, about the 18 years that have passed since then, and the horror … I understand that there will be outrage, anger, as well there should be. There is no prison cell deep and dark and dank enough. I hope the kidnapper lives a very long time in the worst we’ve got.

But also, I’m thinking God is merciful. I am not a man of sufficient wisdom to say that I see or understand a necessary plan at work in such things. Such ponderables are beyond my ken. Just thank God she is alive today. As for tomorrow, I suppose prayer is still needed.

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