Hidden Treasure

“ He who wakes up early finds gold.”
Hungarian proverb

Summer is a time for slowing down and noticing things. There is a certain rhythm that enters our lives that causes us, if we are lucky, to stop going at full speed which is our tendency during the majority of the year. I have been blessed to observe this rhythm through a display in a case in my neighborhood coffee shop. It was created by a lovely woman who is a teacher at heart…and lover of Creation to her core. What she created may have been for children, I don’t know, but it has captivated all ages and I am grateful for her inspiration and time.

Taking milkweed in clear, glass bud vases, she has placed caterpillars on the leaves. Each day we have been able to watch them grow…and who wouldn’t eating so much of a leaf?! It is astounding to watch their jaws chew away at the green food and to see that leaf disappear in neat, circular shapes.  It is equally astounding to watch then go from a size not much longer than a fingernail to the size of a small finger in a short period of time. And then talk about astounding…the spinning of the cocoon! Now there’s an affirmation of Something bigger than us if I ever saw it! All this held in a glass case for our viewing pleasure and amazement.

But what has been the most astounding to me is that once the cocoon is spun and the caterpillar is doing its internal work of becoming, there is this amazing gold ring that appears on the green cone shape that dangles precariously from a stick. All the earthy colors of wood and earth…browns and greens of varying hues…gets a circling of brilliant, shiny gold. How have I never known this? Is it always true? Standing around the case, peering in, I have marveled at this with several people. Our oohs and aahs are really affirmations of faith.

This experience has had me thinking of all the way others in our lives carry a hidden, often surprising beauty. Beauty we don’t always notice. Beauty we didn’t even know was possible. Beauty we could not imagine. I think of the children in classrooms everywhere who blend in, don’t cause trouble, are quiet and unassuming. What ‘gold’ are they carrying that deserves to be seen? Or on the other side of that same coin, the children whose behavior and presence is so tarnished that the ability to see the treasure they carry is obscured by frustration and annoyance. Of course, this is not only true for children but for all the other humans who grace our lives. It is so easy to dismiss the beauty that might be possible, the same beauty we pray people can glimpse in us. Instead of being blind to it, how might we see the hidden treasure they carry? How can we stand in such amazement that they are able to transform that gift into something as amazing as colored wings that can take flight?

I am thankful to this woman who brought this life lesson and plopped it in my path. It would be wonderful if the rhythm of summer that allows us to slow down enough to see could be our daily bread all year round. Perhaps it can. But if not, the invitation today is to keep awake to the hidden treasures in those we meet…opening our eyes and our hearts to what we never knew was possible. Gold in a cocoon? Gold in the eyes of each person we meet? Gold in the heart of the person standing at the street corner? Gold in the person with whom we are in conflict? Gold in the mirror staring back at us?

In truth we are all treasure to the One who breathed us into being. When we notice and honor this truth, the world is rimmed in gold. And that, as has been written, is good…very, very good.