Friday, October 2, 2015

Gifted with a Treasure

Yesterday was the first day of October, cool and drizzly. The people who came to our Food Pantry were in need or they would not have suffered the weather to be there. Near the end of our two hours of being open, one of our leaders said that someone wanted to speak to the "Treasurer" of the Church. Our church treasurer is a lay person and comes on weekends mostly, so being the clergyman in a collar the job came to me.

He was an older gentleman with a winter coat on, my guess because it was waterproof. An older African-American gentleman, he has seen rough days. His hands were worn and calloused. But when I came over to him, he looked me in the eye. He did not say anything, so I said, "Someone told me you wanted to talk."

I grabbed two chairs and we sat down, facing each other. He reached into the neck of his sweater, and pulled out his identification, then his cell phone. He reached back in, stretching it a bit as he rooted around in his shirt pocket. In his rough hands held a white rock, an inch by three quarters by a half. He handed it to me, warm to the touch from being in his pocket. And then he put back his ID and phone. I waited again for him to say something, but he didn't.

I said, "That's a beautiful piece of quartz."

He paused, looked me in the eye again, and with finger raised, finally spoke, "That's not quartz. That's a diamond."

I knew it was quartz, but that did not matter to him. To him it was precious. To him it was a one inch by three quarters by a half diamond. A diamond of fabulous wealth.

It was the pearl of great price.

It was the widow's mite.

It was the most valuable thing he had, and he was entrusting it to me. He gave to me to give to the church his greatest treasure. I was surprised, but I should not have been.

As a priest, I receive more treasures than I know what to do with. People give me their hopes when sense would tell them they should not have any. They send their kids off to camp with me and you can tell when they leave by their lingering how hard this is for them. People tell me their deepest and darkest secrets, usually in a whisper, things that have been under lock and key in their souls festering for too long. Treasures all, much like the rock, or diamond rather.

When the prophet Samuel anointed David, whose own father did not find worthy enough to even mention his existence to Samuel, there is a wonderful line of Scripture. "Man looks at the outward appearances, but God looks at the heart." For all outward appearances, the rock sitting on my desk is quartz, but when I try to look with my God specs on, there is something so precious I can hardly imagine.

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Blessings, Rock