Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroys, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also your heart be ~Matthew 6:19-21.
Reading any sort of published material, from columns to books, always reveals to the reader something about the author. This seems to be more true of non-fiction than fiction even though fiction pieces can certainly reveal an author's interests, obsessions, and even fantasies. For me, writing articles that appear on sites such as Catholic Exchange has certainly been a blessing — one that has come with some lessons along the way. The reader gets to know me — my likes, dislikes, habits, and family — in a very personal way. Being a very private person, I find this a bit of a challenge. Yes, there are the occasional hurts I feel because of a negative comment here and there, but more striking is the humbling experience of serving our great and mighty Lord in some small way through what I am inspired to write.
This article is no different. It begins with my telling you of a recent trip to the track at the local school. As you know if you've read my articles, in summer I try to walk at least four times a week at the track. I find the track to be a place where my heart and soul are easily able to communicate with God. I have had some very personal revelations at the track — revelations that have become quite public as I've shared them with you.
Last week was no exception, even though the scenery is now telling me it is getting time to move my exercise routine back indoors. The children are back in school. The tips of leaves are now a reddish-orange and they rustle a bit differently in the wind. The blaze of the midday sun no longer confirms that my workout is grueling and physically rewarding. Instead, a softer light shines upon my face. I find I'm neither grunting nor groaning as I complete laps but am simply invigorated by the scents and smells of autumn in the air. My heart races for an altogether different reason: I am transfixed by the beauty of the world in which we live.
Joining me in the recognition of the change of seasons last week, was a busy little squirrel. Just as it was clearly apparent to me that summer was drawing to a close, so, too, this little guy was made aware. But how? Did he notice the leaves changing? Did he feel the cooler temperatures? I couldn't help but be amazed as he grabbed acorns and other nuts from the ground and scurried about burying them. He was so diligent that I was almost frightened by his lack of concern over my presence. As I approached his spot, he looked up but quickly went back to work. His was a chore that could not be put off. He wouldn't be scared away from what he knew he needed to do: bury his food for winter. As I watched him dash from one location to another, I could not fathom how he would remember where his precious food was buried. I, who cannot remember where I put the pen I last used or the extra container of hand soap or even the extra bags of napkins, could not help but be amazed at the fact that this little furry creature would have no problem finding his winter food in the vast acreage of the school's property.
As I walked and continued to glimpe the squirrel's mission out of the corner of my eye, I thought of Christ's warning about our own interests in treasure. Now, let me be clear that I don't believe that the good Lord is suggesting that any of us live irresponsibly. I believe He expects my husband and me to make conscious arrangments for things like retirement and to take care of our family in responsible ways. I do believe Christ is cautioning us, however, to make sure we understand where our true treasure exists. Sometimes when we get caught up in our daily responsibilities we lose sight of what really matters. It isn't about an enormous 401(k) nor is it in land holdings in the Caribbean. It isn't if we've given our children debt-free college educations or annual five-star family vacations. Our true treasure lies in our salvation in Christ and in the ways we live our earthly existence for that eternal goal.
I thought about that squirrel for a few days marveling at the simplicity of it all. This squirrel understood his requirements for winter and I'm pretty sure he didn't bury ten times what he would need, but only enough so that, if he lost track of a nut or two, he still wouldn't starve. I liked that little guy's sense of purpose and the diligence with which it was pursued. I was easily able to see how I needed to be more like my furry friend in how I sought the things of this earth. I needed to take stock of where my own treasures were accumulating. Fleeting as the summer, so, too, is our earthly time to store up treasures in heaven and that little squirrel reminded me not to get caught unprepared!