Repeatedly losing and finding Nemo

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Rev. Walter Klockers

Do you still have a Christmas gift that was given to you years ago? I have one that I’ve hung onto since 2003. That was the year that the movie “Finding Nemo” was shown in theaters.

The central character in this animated feature film is a saltwater clownfish named Nemo. The plot involves this little creature getting hopelessly lost. Nemo eventually is captured and placed in an aquarium in a dentist’s office.

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this tale. Nemo’s father sets out to find him. At the same time, Nemo miraculously escapes and returns to his father.

For Christmas in 2003, I was given a small clownfish made of tiny glass beads. It wasn’t an officially licensed product from the movie but the timing of its production and likeness to the character in the movie was unmistakable. I figured that it was given to me because I enjoyed the movie as well as keeping tropical fish.

I attached it to my keyring and it remained there for all these years — until last week. The small loop on top of the fish finally frayed and the red and black glass beaded figure fell off. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. I had it for such a long time. Except for the loop, it was still in fine condition.

The good news is that someone has offered to repair it. I am very thankful. When it is returned, I plan to retire Nemo from keyring duty and hang him on our Christmas tree as an ornament.

I must admit something. When the loop broke, and I held the little fish in my hand, I laughed out loud. I finally understood the primary motivation for the gift. It only took me 15 years.

It’s true that I liked the movie and keep tropical fish. However, it was also true that I had a habit of always losing my keys. Do you remember the movie title? It is “Finding Nemo.” So every time I lost my keys, I had to find Nemo. No one spelled that out for me, but they were likely thinking about the obvious connection. Me? I was clueless.

We may look back at a difficult time in our lives when we felt we were hopelessly lost. It may only be years later that we realize that God was with us all the while. That loop had never been broken.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.

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