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It’s happening again: the blooming of the summer snowflake viburnum shrub outside my study window; its fresh pointed leaves give way to showy blossoms preening in the sunshine and attracting honey bees and occasional sparrows. 

From a distance, the swirls of whiteness suggest a frigid season long since passed. When we had planted the shrub, then about three feet tall, I wondered how many springs I would delight in its flowering. I would find out.

For six winters, I had shivered as drenching rains and ice storms pommeled the shrub, encrusting its lower branches within snow banks next to the house—Even found myself speaking words of encouragement to it, knowing I would have to be patient and wait. And the summer snowflake viburnum continued kept coming back, only taller, larger, and filled with more blossoms.

Like the summer snowflake viburnum, I wonder how many more growth cycles I must experience before going home. I feel ready but more winters could still lie ahead, and with them, even deeper learning.

Seems that my long life is like a treasure hunt.

Once I stepped back from significant teachers and took stock of what I found, I began discerning clues about the Sacred in places I ordinarily would not have frequented, specifically my unconscious; its darkness, impenetrable. My loneliness deepened, my discomfort mounted, and questions spliced my resolve. Even more disconcerting were my dreams, like cattle prods urging me forward. With trepidation, one foot scaled that ravine; another trudged through brambles that bloodied my calves. Many dead-ends undermined my resolve to forge ahead, and yet there was no other option. There was always the next clue to discover.

Years passed. This was no child’s game. Annual retreats afforded me respite to consolidate my gains and give thanks to God. But then the struggle began afresh—Still another clue to discover. So what is this treasure that has attracted my being, from earliest memory? Once glimpsed, its allure only compelled more engagement.

Again, I look to the Gospels. Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a hidden treasure buried in a field (Mt. 13). Someone finds it, reburies it, then thrilled by his discovery, sells all he has and buys this field. He must have it. His life depends upon it.

Like the seeker, I cherish this treasure, tucked away in my depths. Lest I become puffed up by this discovery, the apostle Paul likens my humanness to an earthenware vessel (II Cor. 4:7), ordinary, and in time, cracks apart when no longer needed.

So the treasure hunt continues—My self-emptying also continues.

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