Sunday, November 05, 2006

The treasure in the field

My favorite Biblical parable – and it’s so short it’s really more of a simile than a parable – is in Matthew 13:44. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Isn’t it strange, and fitting, that the man didn’t just buy the treasure; he bought the whole field? Fields are weedy. They are full of bugs. Fields require labor. But it was worth the cost, even the value of all this man’s possessions, because the field and the treasure within it were a package deal.

I first fell in love with the parable when I was returning to activity within my church after an absence of a few years – an absence fueled by my frustration with certain social conventions of my religion, not the religion itself. My return, and the subsequent strengthening of my faith, required me to buy the field, or in other words, learn to tolerate the cultural aspects of my church because they did not make the truths and principles within it any less desirable. The priceless treasure of the gospel made it worth traipsing through a bit of thistle to acquire.

The beauty of parables is their capacity to mean many things. Now that I’m a parent, I think of this parable differently. Parenting certainly resembles a field some days. And while I love my children profoundly, I’ve never been one to say I love every minute of being a mom. (And those mothers who say this to me get 4 stars for wishful thinking and 0 stars for credibility – the same score I give old couples who insist they’ve never exchanged a cross word in their 65 years of marriage.)

Sometimes I get a bit mired in the muckier parts of parenthood, but then there are those perfect moments where the value of the treasure is impossible to miss. One such moment was on a camping trip this summer. The older boys were out fishing on the lake with their dad, and Nora was asleep. Gabriel had me all to himself – a rare event lately – and he talked continuously for 2 hours straight.

I took this photo as he was gathering a bunch of wildflowers and giving each one a new botanical name as he picked it. I only wish I had written the names down because I remember laughing at his crazy concoctions the whole time. It was just one of those instants where I felt perfect joy, simple as that.

There’s a line in a Wordsworth poem that says: “here I stand, not only with the sense of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts that in this moment there is life and food for future years.” I think back to joyful moments like this one when I need “life and food” to sustain me on the more meager days. I picture Gabriel in the field, and I reach out as he hands me a fistful of newly-christened flowering weeds.


Radioactive Jam said...

I've always been amazed how our children sustain. Or drain.

Sometimes it's a simultaneous activity. Those are my favorite times.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I agree, there are some things in the Church that you just have to live with and accept that you will never understand. Especially some people! And meetings during nap time. And why boys get scouts and girls get Achievment days which doesn't even compare. I think I'll stop now.

The Daring One said...

I love this. I have missed your site the past week. You have such an amazing way with words.

owlhaven said...

The golden moments. Yes. Store them up, indeed.

Amazing to be reading this tonight, of all nights, as I have been plowing through the writing of a book proposal. The intro is exactly on the lines of this post. Serendipity to be reading your blog tonight, for the first time ever.

Now back to work. (yawning)
Mary, mom to many

Julie said...

I like that -- sustain and drain. That's the beauty of it all.

Ah, so you've got a list too? I try to not dwell on mine. My new mantra: humans are flawed.

Daring Kathryn,
Thanks! I'll try not to gush about how much you inspire me.

This kind of thing has been happening to me a lot lately too...there's some kind of a zeitgeist out there.

allysha said...

That is really lovely, Julie. And a much needed thought for this mom! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that quote. I wrote it on a post it for my monitor. :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Funny how I can find buried treasure in your fields here. Bloglines had this come up as new post to me and I am glad I read it. You are not alone in your feelings with questions about Church things nor with loving mothering all the time. As far as Church goes, the prophets are always telling us to question things. How else will we gain a testimony? And aren't we living this life to improve? We won't become perfect here so I don't think there is anyway to have all of our questions answered. Faith is the key.

I love to be a mother and I really don't want to be anywhere else right now in my life, but that doesn't mean I don't want a vacation sans kids and that I won't kick Costco boxes across the floor when I am annoyed with the offspring ... there is a reason why I don't get their boxes anymore!

Some day I would love to hear more of your story about your questions!