Where’s Your Treasure?
A new friend, a woman in her 40s, told me how neither her current profession nor her first job out of college have had any relation with what she studied in college. No surprise to me. After taking a BA in Spanish at the end of 1975, I worked with it part-time for 6 months, then moved to Taiwan, leaving Spanish behind. But something I learned then recently surfaced from the depths of memory.
In the 16th century Spain was the dominant sea power in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. In Europe the king of Spain ruled most of Italy, parts of Austria, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Empire stretched around the world. Wealth from the colonies created a boom, Spain’s “golden age.” The crash of that age, began in 1588. By 1898 most of the little that remained of the overseas empire was lost in a brief war. Some intellectuals began asking serious questions, wondering where, if any existed, Spain’s treasure might lay.
Treasure is a difficult thing to wrestle with. Our hearts tend to follow it; into our investment prospects, past glory days, or the accomplishments of the children we raise. Many people compute net worth and feel they might be doing better. We cling to what we have and look to get more. We grieve over what we have not yet acquired or about what we have lost.
A clergy couple in New Jersey wrote an appeal for a book recommendation in 2001. A woman in their church was grieving because her only child, a daughter, had grown up and moved away into a career in the US Military. “The Mom’s whole life revolved around this daughter, and the daughter now wants some space. Can anyone recommend a good book for someone grieving their empty nest?”
Laurence, the deacon of Rome, was martyred in the year 258. He was persecuted because he managed the church’s properties. A magistrate demanded that the wealth of the church be turned over, so Laurence pointed to a crowd of poor people whom the church fed and clothed, saying, “These are the treasury of riches of the church.” Treasures are not just the things we lock up in vaults and homes. Where our treasure is, there will our hearts be, also. Where’s yours?
David Alexander is a resident of Holland, MI, recently retired after 39 years in Taiwan.