This week, I had a lucky find. I was walking a muddy path that circumnavigates the village of Pleshey. (I was at a retreat centre, and had only managed lunch and a quick sit down before I needed to get up and ‘do’ something.) It was so achingly cold out that I put my hands in my pockets; and there, among the keys and loose change, sat a little stone. Puzzled, I pulled it out; then, I remembered.
Some time ago, my five-year-old son found this sparkly purple object and with great delight came running up to share it with me. ‘I’ve found treasure!’ he exclaimed. ‘And you can have it…’
At the time, my mind must have been on other things – dwelling somewhere in the past, perhaps, as I sifted an old conversation for anything remotely hurtful (something I’m good at), or stretching into the future to worry about how I could survive my next few work projects.
I can’t even remember where he found the stone; I just remember his words. I must have put it in my pocket oblivious, unthinking. But as I wandered lonely, with only the blur of a deer and a brace of pheasant for company, the little stone finally had my attention. Treasure. My son had found treasure and had given it to me.
A string of words were carried in on the chill breeze. ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Jesus.
Somehow I knew, there and then, that I treasured so much nonsense: security, possessions, ‘happiness’, reputation; I realised, too, how, through fear of losing such ‘treasure’, we can end up burying it, stashing it along with our hearts in the boot of the car we’ve bought on HP, or the foundations of the house we’ve almost killed ourselves to ‘buy’, in the boardroom where we’ve built up our personal stock or in the wrong bedroom where we’ve massaged our wounded egos…
Sometimes – especially in these times – we need a treasure map to find where we have misplaced our hearts. Sometimes, we may find real treasure in the most unexpected of places, like the pocket of an old pair of jeans. But always, surely, we need a little stillness and space, to help us recall and recover those things of great price we didn’t realise we’d been given, but which we’d been carrying all along.