A lifetime of treasure

by Jeff Hedglen

North Texas Catholic

December 19, 2017

NTC photo/Jayme Shedenhelm

Receiving a wrapped present, even after over 50 years of receiving them, is still cause for excitement, promise, and possibility.

Boxes filled with surprises, given by someone you love, are always special. This time of year is, of course, filled with many boxes waiting to be unwrapped and their contents embraced.

I recently received a different kind of box of promise and possibility. While going through my dad’s office, helping him downsize so he could move to his new independent living apartment, I found a treasure chest in the form of a box filled with hundreds of pieces of paper. Unbeknownst to me, my father had written down pretty much everything he heard that inspired him. It’s literally a lifetime of treasured sayings, quotes, and Scripture verses.

Most of the quotes are not attributed to anyone — that was not the point of writing them down. Rather, it was my dad’s simple way of remembering the particular bits of wisdom he heard throughout his life. And now, I have all this insight sitting next to the printer in my office. This gives a whole new meaning to “desk reference.”

Here is a quick sampling of these nuggets of wisdom:

“It’s your future… be there!”

“God’s delays are not denials.”

“Turn your burdens into bridges.”

Some of the quotes are about how to approach life. Others are more about how to live your faith. Some are nice quips that bring a smile, and others are cause for deeper reflection. But whatever emotion or thought these bits of wisdom bring, what keeps hitting me between the eyes is the discipline my dad had to write these things down and save them — to the point they have become a collection.

Though it is fairly rudimentary, this box of inspiration bears some similarity to the collection of words and deeds we call the inspired Word of God. From the earliest of times, people have been remembering and sharing the powerful intersection of the Creator God and His creatures. What began as an oral tradition became written in time. After more time, these writings were collected into a single book.

To be sure, more interactions, thoughts, words, and deeds occurred from the time of Abraham to the close of the first century, but the ones the people really wanted to remember were preserved and gathered into the treasure chest known as the Bible.

This tradition of saving the most important thoughts, ideas, and events we experienced is still practiced today in many forms: from diaries and journaling, to story time with grandparents, aunts, and uncles, to homilies and spiritual talks, and even in the modern world of Instagram, blogs, and other online portals.

What ties it all together is the desire to share and savor that which has inspired and challenged us. Everything from rather trivial pictures of great meals and quotes that bring meaning to our lives, to the poignant blog of a friend who is raising an autistic young adult with kidney failure, and, most powerfully, to the Word of God, written over the course of centuries, continues to change lives even today.

As I sit and look at this file filled with seemingly unconnected wisdom, my thoughts move to a stable and a manger, a mother and a father, a child and a savior. This scene is the culmination of centuries of slowly unfolding wisdom wrapped up for us in swaddling clothes.

Jesus truly is the ultimate treasure chest. He is the final Word spoken by God. Within His sacred heart we find the personification of the Father’s love for us, the long-awaited Messiah, and the Word made flesh dwelling with us.

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Jeff Hedglen is the diocesan director of Young Adult and Campus Ministry and the primary convener of Camp Fort Worth. For more on Young Adult Ministry, visit fwyam.org

Receiving a wrapped present, even after over 50 years of receiving them, is still cause for excitement, promise, and possibility.

Published (until 12/19/2030)