Lost Treasure

One wonders if spiritual thirst and hunger motivates people to seek treasure



I was on my early morning walk to preempt our record heat in San Diego when I spotted an elderly man and woman sweeping their metal detectors over a children’s playground. She wore a wide-brimmed hat and one knee pad. Stopping beside the woman, I asked, “Find anything?”

“Little stuff like dimes and pennies. I found a titanium engagement ring that my husband wears now,” she said, pointing to him. That launched us into a Q & A session.

“Metal detecting is a popular hobby. San Diego has clubs for beach hunts and parties that keep a rank of exceptional windfalls.”

“What’s the most valuable item you’ve detected?”

“He found a silver ring with ten diamonds. Had the ring resized for me, worth about $1,600. Can’t show ya… I don’t wear it on field trips. Though the newbies get gung-ho over a find like that, odds are like one for every 2,500 things found.”

“Better than the Lotto odds,” I quipped.

“That’s for sure. Location is a huge factor, so we aim for where the cars are parked and where people play at popular beaches and amusement parks. We do this mainly for the fun of it, the exercise, and meeting folks, but finding the Hope Diamond would make it a joyful day.”

“I’ll bet. How much does your metal detector cost?

“Depends on the quality. This detector costs about $600 and discovers at one foot. Others can run you $5,000 to find treasure at ten feet, even under water.”

“Good luck,” I said. She nodded and knelt to explore another hit, as I strolled over to her husband, who was also wearing a full-brim hat and knee pads. He used a pin-pointer wand to narrow his latest find.

“So what’s that wand of yours cost?”

“This here pin-pointer costs about $150. Can’t leave home without it, as they say.”

“What’s your most memorable find?”

“Well,” he pondered a moment, “my wife likely told you about the diamond ring, so my second-most would be the 50 memorabilia coins I found on a beach at low tide. Silver medallions, worth anywhere from $25 to 50 dollars each, probably tossed all at once during an ash burial service, is my guess. They all had the mark of the beast, 666.”

“Wow! Hell of a find, I must say! The devil won’t be pleased one bit,” I said.

“No kidding. I’ve saved them all in case he wants ‘em back,” he said chuckling.

“Where are you headed next weekend?” I asked.

“I thought we’d hunt the flash flood washouts in Northern Arizona. We heard of placer gold nuggets weighing up to five grams, worth about $200 each.”

“Good luck,” I said, wondering as I walked away if a spiritual thirst and hunger motivated people to do treasure hunts. Several scriptural parables came to mind, like the woman searching for her lost gold coin who rejoiced with all her neighbors after finding it (Luke 15:8-10).

But the one that most lends itself to what I observed today was the story of a poor farm laborer who accidentally discovers an ancient treasure in a field his lord owns. In Rabbinical Law it was forbidden for him to claim the treasure as his own. So he joyfully sells all he has and buys the field, gaining title to the fortune he found there (Matt 13:44).

It speaks to the willing sacrifice many Christians have made, leaving family, jobs, and lands, to reclaim that priceless treasure lost by Adam and Eve: the joyous hope of eternal life with God.

Jesus said, ‘There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the Gospel … but he shall receive a hundredfold now … and in the world to come, eternal life’ (Mark 10:29-30 KJV).


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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