Charlotte Bronte said, “The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed.” Although I agree with the first part of her statement my experience has taught me that the treasures we carry in us are strengthened, multiplied and intensified in the illuminating context of friendship, love and community. This process of discovering and sharing what has been woven into our innermost being is an adventure that will certainly unfold differently from one individual to the next, but to share it with others – though daunting – will at the very least multiply our own joy and beyond that encourage others to courageously share the beauty in them. The challenge lies in looking beyond the jars of clay to the treasure within.
Thornton Wilder held that we can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. The link that he makes between discovering ourselves and coming alive is a compelling one. I have often found that when days or weeks go by where I shut my eyes to who I am and how I am, this setting seems to default to all my relationships and interactions slowly but surely blinding me to the people around me. When we choose to open our eyes to the beauty within us the reality is that we have to see the good with the bad, sometimes wading through wounds so deeply rooted they challenge notions of time. However, as Joseph Campbell said, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Perhaps this only applies to me: When I stumble over my own imperfection and find myself facedown and humiliated, getting to my feet and back on my way is the last thing on my mind. This is where the friends travelling alongside me have made all the difference, encouraging me to fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
I will leave you with these words as you go on your way:
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” – Ulysses, Lord Alfred Tennyson