Little Epistle: Bringing Forth Treasures

Bringing Forth Treasures

My friend Martin and I were looking out our kitchen window across Utah Valley to the blue silhouette of the mountains around the mining town of Eureka. The town is named after the sound a prospector makes when he hits pay dirt. And as the old saying has it, “There’s gold in them thar hills.” Even richer are the deposits of silver and lead. Martin said this melody by my friend Dick Davis to the 23rd Psalm.

I said, “Martin, I see where you’re coming from. But maybe we’d better help the other folks follow the trail you just traveled.
Martin and I have been together so long it doesn’t take much to get us on the same wave length.

The mountains around Eureka reminded him of a mining magnate famous around here. His name was Jesse Knight, and he discovered and developed a vein of silver, lead, and some gold that was for a while as rich in silver as the Comstock Lode in Nevada or the seams of gold in the Sierra Nevadas of California. Yet glittering and rich as the ore was, it still required them to dig out two tons of rock to extract fewer than two ounces of the treasure. Seems like a lot of rock for a little ore. But that’s a good ratio for mining.

And it’s not that much different from some other treasures we might seek in this life. How many whacks and taps of the hammer on chisel did it take for Michelangelo to create his magnificent statues from a hunk of rock? How many brush strokes to create Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper? How many edits and rewrites to produce Leo Tolstoy’s book War and Peace? How many rehearsals to present Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

How much preparation to create life’s precious moments? My friend Frank Santiago’s son Brian swished through a shot from mid court at the last second that gave his high school the state basketball championship. Frank’s friends said, “Your kid has a beautiful natural long shot.”
Frank told me, “Yeah natural. Over the past four years I’ve stood under the basket and shagged that ball back to him every morning until he hit 600 shots.” You can do the math, but even at five days a week, I get a total of 624,000 makes. That doesn’t count misses. That’s how you become a natural shooter.

Most of us won’t be world renowned artists, scholars or athletes. But how about the most important treasure we can acquire in this life?
That’s what Martin was referring to, and the story goes like this. Years ago a man from a small town in southern Utah made it big as a professional actor. On a visit to his home town, he offered to do readings for a gathering of old friends and neighbors. They enjoyed his polished renditions. He closed his program with a beautiful reading of the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my shepherd.

Then he asked his former bishop, who had served those folks for decades if he would come up and read the psalm.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” the beloved old minister began. No dramatic or interpretive skills, but a heart and soul worthy of the psalmist’s pen.

As he finished there was no applause, but a reverent silence, and some tears coursing down cheeks.
The actor stood and pronounced, “Bishop, I know the 23rd Psalm, but you know the shepherd.”

A lifetime of work casting away the distractions, temptations, and sins of the world had brought forth in this man a spirit of pure gold.

We are all miners and processors. The raw material of life presents itself to us every day. It piles up like the mountainous tailings out of a mine. Our job is to find the gems, extract them, shine them up and use them to beautify our lives and bless the lives of others.

Then, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

And thus may it be with all of us.