In the Loamy Field

In the Loamy Field

I do not walk in the fields around my town often, but when the air was chilled beneath the trees and under the shade of the houses, and when I delighted in morning rays shooting their light and heat at me from behind each house and tree in straight lines on my face and coat, I was lured away for an hour or two of quiet to those gentle fields where the sun was not to be hindered. I laughed and said to myself, “It is looking for me and I will make myself easy to be found.”

I stood first, warm, the adumbrating sun behind me, on the outer “shore” of my neighbor’s property which was tilled (but otherwise bare of vegetation) in rows straight and perpendicular to my line of sight like the lesser ripples of a sea inlet. A “For Sale” sign was posted, beaten by rain. The ground was loamy and soft and my walking boots were sure to show it at the completion of their use.

Once surveyed, I cut across the rows, then down them a ways, and back against them, then down them, and so forth, instinctively, because in whatever I do there is a tendency to symmetry, for all the world is swirling otherwise. And even in that swirling, it moves in symmetry like water draining from a tub one direction on one side of the equator and another on the other side, as if by design. I instinctively coordinate with this metaphysical symmetry that I cannot ever seem to escape as if I believe something is causing it, but what or who is like the sun, I surmised, and not to be stared at.

So, like an Aztec builder in my sharp lines and 90 degree turns, I traversed the whole and was coming back in a similar pattern on the far side when I stepped up to an arresting lacuna, a strange discontinuity in the pattern — not large, not likely noticed by anyone ever, but obvious to me, for I had been studying the regular undulations of the soil, eyes down, for some time until I was mesmerized by them. This flattened space then appeared to me abruptly, and inside the space a severe dent, as if a sharp shovel had done it. I stopped.

I first thought that this was a flat stone just beneath the surface. I kicked into the dent and did find something hard there. I got on my knees and scratched back some more of the dirt. It was flat as imagined. I scraped inchmeal until I had discovered it to be a piece of wood. I dug around it. It was approximately one foot long and 8 inches across, but also inches deep. Working down I was able to get my hands down either side. It took even more excavation until my hands could fit under it in such a way that I could lift it out for examination.

The box was unadorned, and in every sense crude. It’s hinges were rusty and obviously crafted by a blacksmith. It was a farmer’s box for storing nails which would also have been made by the blacksmith, no doubt. I was certain that this box had one day fallen off of a wagon into a hole in the field and was not noted until much later when it was needed. When the farmer returned to the field it could not be found because of the rain or dust or imprecision of their knowledge about when or where it had fallen off. Perhaps it fell off in another field, or was misplaced by a farmhand. Likely it had rested here like a corpse in its rustic casket for scores of decenniums. I sat it on the ground to examine those nails or implements or whatever was most certainly to be found there. I opened the latch finally to see, the beaming sun to my back.

My hands trembled as I looked. I had only read of such things I was now experiencing in books, and only those that were fictional. This surely was fiction. My mind could not translate at first what my eyes were seeing. It was a trove of gold pieces. The light reflection from the contents below was as the sun itself, so that all was blurred in a kind of white haze.  Blinking to refocus, I glanced around to see if anyone was observing. Quickly, without even looking over the entire contents, I buried it again, packed it down, threw loose dirt on top and some small stones. I took seven steps to the rear and put down a rock and a small stick behind it rising to about two feet above the ground. I looked on all sides to orient me to its location. And, forgetting my patterned walking, I ran across the field in a direction that would land me closest to home. I continued to run toward my house where I quickly changed my clothes. Within a few minutes I was at the realtor’s office to discover the cost of the field he was brokering, laid down earnest money on the spot, and proceeded to put my home up for sale, all in one visit.

This was my family home. It was a spacious and beautiful one and envied by others. I had invested heavily in it over the years. But, I could not have been happier to sell it. In fact, I began, in whatever way I could, to sell off everything I had, here or there, as fast as I could. I had one goal above all goals — buy that field. Thankfully it sold quickly.

Then, with nothing, no property or goods, I bought the field. Without one scintilla of regret, I bought it. With unmitigated joy, I bought it. As family and friends told me I was a fool, I bought it. And I have yet to be sad about doing it.

This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

Copyright © 2023 Jim Elliff
For more and better stories told by Jesus, read Matthew 13 in your Bible.