What is the bird in my hand really worth?

When I was a kid, we went through a phase of playing treasure hunts. Depending on our mood, one of us would either make a map, or bury clues along the way with the next set of directions.

They didn't always work out perfectly - our steps were all different sizes. Sometimes we needed more than a little help from the creator. One time my younger brother made me one that had little "treasures" at every stop! Generally the treasure was simply one of our toys, often buried in a small metal box - the 'treasure chest'; but the journey of discovery and the excitement of what might be in store was most of the fun.

Treasures were on my mind recently. It started on the trip to the beach for a weekend away, where I found myself sharing the story above with my husband. When treasure came up again in a totally unrelated discussion, it got me thinking about why treasure might be important at this time.

Walking along the beach, I reflected that each of us treasures different things. Watching surfers, I could imagine the draw of finding the perfect wave, of catching the next ride. And then there were the many rock pools. I have always had an attraction to the treasures I might find in them, whether it be a crab, a fish, sea anemones or simply a pretty garden of seaweed and beautiful shells.

One of our discussions as we walked ventured into wild country. We dreamed a little of what we might do, what changes we might make in our lives - one of those times where we thought about what life might look like if anything goes.

It got me thinking further about what I treasure. What am I prepared to let go of?

Is there a treasure out there that I might miss without letting go of the one in my hand?

Am I holding on too tightly to belief in the old adage that what I have, the proverbial bird, is worth more than what could be? And when is it time to let go so we can possibly get hold of something else?

It reminded me of Jesus' parable (Matt 13:44-6) of the person who found a treasure in a field, and went and sold everything he had to buy the field. And then there is the accompanying story of the pearl of great price - again, the person sold everything to get hold of this pearl.

I have always struggled at a level with both these stories. What if the man got the field only to discover that the previous owner had removed the treasure before he took possession? And isn't buying that pearl a bit like putting all your eggs in one basket? Would you really give up everything for a pearl?

But maybe that is the point. 

Jesus was comparing these situations to the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a risk. When you give up all you have for something, there are rarely guarantees. I like to think that I would follow Jesus' trail wherever it leads, but at the moment I find myself wanting to know more. I have been a little surprised by my reticence toward one option; the sense of loss this idea leaves me with caught me off guard. Am I ready to let go of that much? As I find myself wanting to see a little more of the 'treasure' I might get if I let go of the treasure in my hand, I see that another trust upgrade is required.

And perhaps it also has something to do with challenging that 'good old' belief system of being content and grateful for all you already have, to not to be constantly wanting more. But perhaps what Paul said in his oft-quoted verse about being determined to be content in whatever circumstances is less about staying in one place (physically, emotionally or spiritually) and more about a state of mind in constantly changing scenery. Perhaps it is less about finding my little niche in the world and building a nest to be comfortable in, and more about taking and finding the comfort and peace of the Kingdom wherever I find myself.