Years ago, a few friends and I headed to New York City for a day of bonding and recreation. We drove to the station, parked, hopped on a train to the city, and spent an enjoyable day visiting museums and taking in the sights. Since we bought all the tickets in advance, I had no need to take out my wallet during the trip. But when I stepped off the train at the end of the day on our way home, I suddenly realized it was missing.

IMy wallet was not under the seat as I had expected was pretty sure I had dropped it on the train, but when I ran back to check, it was not under my seat as I had expected. My friends tried to offer words of encouragement, but I just wanted to be alone.

I was walking a few steps behind them, overwhelmed by thoughts of all the work I would have to do to replace my credit cards, driver’s license, car insurance, IDs and pictures. I didn’t notice we were walking around the parking garage in circles in our effort to find our car. Apparently, in our excitement that morning we hadn’t paid much attention to our parking spot.

While going up the steps for the third time, I heard someone call my name. I looked up in surprise and saw an older couple standing on the staircase in front of me. The woman was holding up my driver’s license, looking intently at the picture and then at me. She was holding my wallet in her other hand, clearly trying to identify if I was indeed the rightful owner.

I could barely speak. After a few seconds, the couple explained: When I first got out of the car this morning, my wallet must have fallen and slipped under their car, which was parked next to ours, and stayed hidden from view for the entire day.

They had arrived back on a train just a few minutes after us. While pulling out of their parking space, they caught a glimpse of the wallet. Incredibly, they reparked and decided to walk around the lot looking for the owner.

What were the chances of finding me after a 12-hour day at the parking garage? The only reason we bumped into each other was because my friends couldn’t find our car! If that hadn’t been the case, we would have left 15 minutes before their arrival.

I tried to regain my composure, offering financial compensation to show gratitude for their integrity and kindness. Unsurprisingly, the couple refused. They insisted that it was G‑d’s Providence, what we would call hashgacha pratit. I offered to make a donation on their behalf, and they agreed for me to donate to a cancer-research fund.

Many years later, I wish I could tell these wonderful people that their simple act of kindness infused me with clarity to find my own unique place in the world. It created a visual reminder for me that the return of a lost item is possible despite its very unlikely circumstances. If the Creator of the world orchestrated all this, then I knew that I, too, could be assured that I would not be lost forever.

Since my family’s immigration to the United States in 1989, I have been actively trying to find my place among the Jewish people.

WhenIt took years of detours until I found my destination I was 13 years old, Rabbi Avraham Shemtov organized a trip from Philadelphia for the newly arrived immigrants to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I will never forget the moment I stood before the Rebbe, a lost Soviet child, meeting his gaze and discovering my own internal compass. In his eyes, I saw a reflection of a map that eventually guided me back to my Jewish heritage.

It took many years of detours until I found my destination. Perhaps detours and unexpected turns are all part of the intricate plan that eventually leads us towards the right destination.

It takes courage and clarity to know that the circumstances that prevent us from moving forward are not simple roadblocks, but signs placed in front of us by the Divine Providence.

While the medieval proverb proclaims that “All roads lead to Rome,” I have learned firsthand that all roads lead us back to oneness, to the part of infinite “self” that is forever connected to the Creator.