At the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, a loose shoelace, a lack of handrails, a marble wall and a stroke of misfortune conspired to give one ill-fated individual, who shall remain nameless—until the next paragraph—an Inspector Clouseau moment.

Shattering Conclusion

After hiding from embarrassment for several days, Mr. Flynn recalled the events of that fateful afternoon to reporters.

His misadventure began with the realization that he had ascended the wrong staircase, so he swung gracefully around but trod upon his untied shoelace.

“I was trying to grab hold of something,” he said, “but I couldn’t stop myself.”

Hurtling toward the vases displayed on a windowsill, he thought, I will only shatter the first one. But it was not to be.

“Although I knew the vase would break, I didn’t imagine it would be loose and crash into the other two,” he said. “I’m sure I only hit the first one, which then hit the other, like a set of dominoes.”

The “dominoes,” which had been intact since the 17th century, were valued at $200,000.

“I can say with my hand on my heart,” said Mr. Flynn, with his hand on his heart, “that it was not deliberate. It was just one of those unbelievably unlucky things that can sometimes happen. I collided with a vase, which shattered into thousands of razor-sharp shards, and I was unhurt. I think it must have been a miracle.”

The vases had been displayed on the windowsill for 60 years before Mr. Flynn’s unfortunate visit. Tumbling down the museum staircase, he brought a shattering conclusion to the earthly pilgrimage of three Qing dynasty vases.

Choose Velcro

I’ll tell you a little more about the fall of Mr. Flynn in a minute. But, first, I imagine you’ve had a bad day or two yourself. A friend sometimes says, “Just because today is a bad day doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be the worst day of your life.” What an encouragement. What a friend.

I prefer the advice of something my wife hung on the fridge: “Sometimes bad days remind us that we have good ones to look forward to.”

None of us are immune to circumstances, phone calls, tragedies. That’s why we might want to set our GPS to Psalm 118 (New Living Translation). In it, the writer mentions his distress. Fearful, he’s surrounded by hostile nations; enemies want to take his life. I’ve had bad days, but none like that. So how can he say in the midst of it, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (verse 24)?

Smacked around by trouble and pain, he chose to focus on God’s goodness and mercy. “In my distress I prayed to the Lord,” he wrote, “and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (verses 5-6). Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever” (verse 29).

Your calendar and your circumstances may label this a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. God says, “I’m with you. Have no fear. Choose gratitude. Choose joy.”

As for Mr. Flynn, it took experts six months to reassemble the vases and they are now back on display—in a special case. Reportedly, he was banned from the museum for some time following his fall.

So, listen to your mothers, you children. Do up your laces. Or choose Velcro. 

Photo: Dallas Callaway

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