Tag Archives: Chester

21 May: How do you find treasure in a field?


NAIB and I were awaiting the rest of our party in the hotel lobby. I pulled out the leaflet about Beeston Castle, which we had visited half a lifetime ago.

370 years ago it was the scene of a siege during the last civil war in England, after which it was demolished by the parliamentary forces removing a threat to nearby Chester.

Naturally we were more concerned to recall our visit than the long siege of 1644-45. It was February when we were there and the nettles were no more than brittle grey stalks, the ground beneath them bare.

Here and there were stones and the odd shard of pottery. NAIB and I both found scraps that looked like the reconstructed 17th Century wine flasks in the museum. George, her younger brother, was becoming frustrated that he had found none, and his mother was getting anxious to return to base before dark.

His sister offered him one of her pieces; no, that was not finding it for himself.

Here’s one’, said his mother, but that was not finding it for himself.

What worked was for one of us to spot a shard on the surface, but not to touch it, nor to point at it, but just to wave a hand over it and say, ‘This looks like a good place for pottery.’

George went on his way rejoicing with his own piece of pottery, after finding it for himself.


It seems to me that each of us has a ‘treasure hidden in a field’ that the Good Lord allows us to find for ourselves, even providing endless clues to guide us. Let’s be open to that guidance, not consumed by frustration, fear or anger.

Come Holy Spirit!

Beeston Castle by JMW Turner

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Alternative Images of Christ



mercylogoThe notion of Christ as a sea-faring Saviour was particularly appropriate for writers in a Mediterranean setting, and was used by several authors. There is still a hint of it in Bonaventure, when he refers to making time for prayer as a way to escape danger, behaving like a sailor hastening to a harbour that is safe. Perhaps it helps to bring to mind an image of Paul and Silas travelling amongst Gentiles. But other images can also stir the mind to imagine Christ as having transformative power. His energies can bring strength in other social settings such as a mill, a wine-press of a family’s agricultural plot with its trellises and lattices. ‘Grapes being turned into wine’ is obviously a transformation metaphor. It tells us that Christ’s merciful energies can bring relief where our labouring efforts to gather a crop exhaust us.

Bonaventure also draws a parallel between the wood of a trellis for a vine and the wood of the Cross. “The beams of the gibbet are crossed; our Vine, the good Jesus, is lifted up on it; his arms and his whole body are forcibly stretched out – with such distorting violence… that all the joints of his frame can be counted.”

In the Chester Mystery Plays too, the workmen stretch Jesus excessively because his arms do not match the points for the nails. Yet the meditation here too must be on how Christ came in the midst of humanity’s uncaring destructiveness purely to bring love. He gave us that mystery of love despite our blindness.


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