“In his joy, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
I am on vacation. Sitting out here on the edge of the continent, at the place where ancient giant trees meet more ancient rock and water, I have stepped out of my everyday life like a person steps out of her clothes. I have taken it by the shoulders and carefully folded it, smoothing out the wrinkles, before storing it away for a little while. My attention has been captured by shafts of sunlight in dark silent forests, translucent blue green waves pounding sand, and savory meals cooked over a campfire.
Perhaps this is why the line from the readings for today that snagged my attention was, “He goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” Stepping out of one life into another is something I can really imagine, poised here as I am at the edges of things and away from my ordinary routine.
My partner and I like to contemplate what it would be like to live in some of the houses we pass as we drive out to the beach or into the redwood forest. This one overlooks the foggy bay. It has a huge yard full of flowers, and it is all on one floor, which would be helpful as we age. The other one over there has a plethora of solar panels and a porch swing. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit in the swing in the morning, sip our coffee and plan the day? Here is another, a cottage amid the looming trees, surrounded by the deep silence of the grove, but painted a jolly, human-sized blue. How would it be to wake up in the quiet of the redwoods every morning?
We imagine having new kinds of jobs, entering into fellowship in new communities, living in different landscapes, but nothing we can think of is important enough to compel us to actually uproot ourselves and go. What would be?
There would have to be a real metanoia involved, a repentance, a traveling, as Marcus Borg describes it, beyond the mind one now has into a brand new understanding. It would involve much joy. Only out of such a completely fresh way of seeing would the whole of a life be gladly and willingly sold and replaced. This would happen because the old way of living no longer made sense. New priorities would accompany the radical viewpoint. New dreams would tug at the heart.
In my experience this is not a once and for all kind of occurrence. Think of the state of openness and radical awareness that perceives treasure and sells everything in order to attain it. This joyful viewpoint will assert itself whenever something gets too defined or too tied down, and will bring whatever is static once again to a state of upheaval. This vantage point follows God in God’s creativity, ever moving, ever changing. It is, itself, what is sought. The kingdom of heaven is the mind that is always finding the hidden thing of great value and, over and over again, selling all it has. It holds all concepts, understandings, possessions and properties in a slippery grasp. Orienting toward what is most important, it lets everything else slide. It is a disastrous, unorthodox healing foolishness. And the whole world is its delight.
Here at the edge of forest and ocean, away from the obligations and fears of my ordinary life, I am experiencing once again the bigness, the unpredictability and the wildness of God. May this help to draw my heart perpetually into the kingdom of heaven awareness that sees the treasure buried in the field and sells everything that is not it.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.