my brother and our next-door neighbor
became bored with Red Rover
and tired of riding bikes.
They had already traded every baseball card
and shot an entire galaxy of space invaders
with their pointer fingers and some chopsticks.
The dog flatly refused to be harnessed to a wagon
and the summer promised to be
Maybe it had something to do with reading
Mark Twain, who said,
“Now and then,
we had a hope that if we lived,
and were good,
God would permit us to be Pirates.” *
Or it could be
the boys wanted a chance to laugh at parents
who continued to discover strange holes
and mysterious rock cairns
that epic summer became memory.
But when I remember that summer,
I like to think they wanted to entertain
a sometimes annoying
but always game-for-adventure
little sister and tag-along
who was crazy about history
and buried artifacts
and sleuthing like Nancy Drew.
Whatever the reason,
that summer my brother and his friend
interred toy soldiers
and buried Cracker Jack prizes
and Monopoly money
and broken pieces of Mom’s costume jewelry
throughout our adjoining yards
for me to discover and dig up.
Led by elaborate maps and compass headings,
I excavated beneath the mimosa tree,
searched behind Candy’s doghouse,
and cut a serious trench or two
beside the yew hedge.
My stash of treasure grew:
tarnished curtain rings,
strings of “pearls” and glass jewels,
mummy curses and Viking bones
and a pile of ever more cryptic clues,
written on torn brown paper bags
and aged with the patina of grimy fingers.
Inspired by my wild enthusiasm,
Paul and Larry joined in,
digging a “hole to China”
in the corner by our fence.
While I followed treasure maps,
they labored over a hole,
debating how long it would take
to reach the molten core
and fall out the other side of the world.
X Marks the Spot.
A Hole to China.
This is the stuff of dreams--
not just for children
looking to pass a long, hot Tulsa summer,
but for anyone blessed
with a touch of adventure
and a taste for surprise.
A young Bedouin shepherd,
tossing a rock into an opening
on the side of a cliff near Qumran
hears a clay vessel shatter,
and 2,000-year-old religious scrolls
are brought into the light.
After thirty years of searching,
British archaeologist Howard Carter
uncovers a step
descending into the tomb of Tutankhamen
and reveals the first largely intact
royal burial from ancient Egypt.
A diving team for a salvage company
finds something shiny on the ocean floor,
and recovers the wreck of a galleon
carrying 17 tons of coins --
valued at $500 million dollars.
The lure of discovering something
the siren call of a treasure map,
the rumor of riches,
the hint of something precious and rare
buried in time
and continues to drive us to explore,
I think Jesus understood
this facet of human nature—
this urgent call to adventure.
He invites fisherfolk
to cast out into the deep,
fishing for the biggest catch of all,
He sends those disciples
out into the unknown two by two
without the security of food
to survive by their wits and faith alone
on the grand adventure of mission
to teach, to preach, and to heal.
He sometimes speaks in cryptic terms,
inviting listeners to use our imaginations—
to hunt and search
for deeper meaning
and greater understanding.
He often answers questions
with even more challenging questions
or engages us in stories
about things both lost and found:
the lost sheep
the lost coin
the lost son
into a journey of discovery.
Today, Jesus speaks of treasure
buried in a field—
Treasure so precious
that possession of it
is worth everything you own.
He tells the story of a pearl so valuable,
so bewitchingly lovely
that a wealthy connoisseur
sold his entire collection
just to hold it close.
Many of the commentaries on this passage,
both ancient and modern,
point to the treasure in the field
and the pearl in the collection
as being the Word Incarnate,
or the sweetness of the heavenly Kingdom.
Or perhaps the treasure
or even the Church itself,
the body of Christ.
Take your pick,
they all make sense.
But what if it’s us?
What if we are the pearl of great price?
What if we are the treasure,
buried deep in the field?
What if God
is the merchant
longing for us—
the perfect pearl?
What if we are priceless
to be searched for,
What if God is willing to sacrifice
just to find us and keep us?
What if there is no price God won’t pay,
No payment God won’t make
for our sakes?
What if we spend our lives
following first one treasure map,
only to finally realize that we,
are the lost treasure
marked with an X?
I was too young to know
that summer so long ago—
that summer of searching for Viking bones
and buried curtain rings—
that God was searching for me, too.
I didn’t know,
that God saw me,
not simply as a sometimes irreverent,
often stubborn child
whose report cards
always carried the notation,
“She talks too much”
but as a pearl,
worth everything God has to give.
"The kingdom of heaven
is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy
goes and sells all that he has
and buys that field. The kingdom of heaven
is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has
and buys it."
It is a treasure
that will transform your life.
*Mark Twain, “Life on the Mississippi”