Search ends for missing Tibetan bowl

By Daniel Hernandez, Advocate Staff

There are times in life when material items go missing.

People reminisce about how much happiness an inconsequential trinket once brought, but have to understand that they may not get that item back and, consequently, must move on.

However, that does not mean they should not remain hopeful that what was lost is still in good hands. For months that was the case for humanities professor David “Dajarah” Houston, who had left his antique Tibetan meditation bowl behind in a campus classroom early this semester and had no idea where it was.

So it was a special moment Thursday, when health and human services department Chairperson Aminta Mickles Houston handed the Tibetan bowl back to its rightful owner, Houston.

For the past three months, Mickles, unbeknownst to Houston for half that time, had the bowl in safekeeping because she wanted to personally return it to Houston.

Mickles said she had it in her possession for so long because of her late night teaching schedule, which offers limited opportunities for arranging a time to return the bowl to Houston, who teaches in the morning.

The bowl was initially discovered in March when one of Mickles’ part-time staffers discovered the bowl inside a canvas tote in GE-225 before her usual Wednesday Health and Human Services 121 class began.

When he found the bag resting on the podium, he brought it to Mickles, so they could figure out who it belonged to. The pair was unaware of who occupied the class earlier in the day.

Mickles said she thought about taking the bowl to Police Services, but figured the artifact would be better secured in her possession.

Mickles said, “I really wanted to take it to Police Services, but when you don’t get off until 9 (p.m.), you just want to go home.”

Police Services hosts an official campus lost and found, but it turns out not too many people on campus know that.

MCHS student Nadia Sparenberg said, “If I lost someone I’d feel bummed. Losing something is always awful. Honestly, if I lost something I’d kind of give up. I don’t know where the lost and found services are.”

Mickles decided to send out an email on April 9 to all campus employees asking if anybody knew who owned the bowl. Houston replied and wanted to schedule a time to get it back. However, they quickly encountered speed bumps when scheduling plans to connect.

“Our schedules are totally different. I’m here at night time,” Mickles said. “I sent him an email and asked, when can we connect so that I can give it to you?”

The professor also considered asking her student-worker to bring the bowl to Houston.

Communication between the professors stalled as they both were too busy to make time to see each other.

But their emails eventually produced results.

When Houston told The Advocate that Mickles was planning to return the bowl, student-journalists helped the two arrange a short window of time for her to give the bowl back.

On Thursday afternoon in Houston’s office in GE-108, she arrived with the bowl in her hand and greeted Houston with a smile and a hug.

They acknowledged they haven’t seen each other for such a long time because of their office locations and contrasting schedules and workdays.

“I’ve lost something before on campus and when it was returned, it was just like joy — complete joy,” Mickles said. “So, I’m hoping when he gets this back, I’ll see a smile on his face or just the joy of knowing that this is special and I’m giving it back.”

“I was thrilled. I had very much decided that there’s no way it was coming back,” Houston said.

The professor was elated to have the bowl back in his hands.

He unwrapped the bowl from the canvas to examine it and the wooden mallet. Everything was just as he had left it.

As steadily as he could, he tapped the rim with the mallet to create an audible vibration that filled the office.

Staff in adjacent rooms could hear its sound.

A look of joy painted his face.

“You always wonder how people will respond (to the bowl), but people end up being touched by it and come to depend on it,” Houston said.

Now that he has the 300-year-old bowl back in his possession he said, “I will use it in my classes as I have for the past 30 years.”

And he acknowledged that the bowl held a much greater power than just an object that brought Houston contentment — it brought co-workers back together who lost touch with each other.