Everyone loves to find buried treasure. I recall a year ago or so, when a case of 170-year-old champagne was auctioned after being perfectly preserved in a shipwreck under the sea.
Last December, a teenager in Michigan unearthed a 13,000-year-old mastodon bone. In April, a man in Fredericksburg, Va., found a 150-year-old ring from the War Between the States and was able to return it to kin of its owner.
During a morning low tide, especially after a storm, treasure hunters scour shorelines with their metal detectors.
In all of these cases, however, folks are finding things buried by time, by death, by tragedy. Items that were lost — or at least not put there “to be found.”
For the culmination of our parish’s 10th anniversary, we buried treasure and left a clear sign for those who will follow us 100 years hence to find it.
We put at century-long time capsule under the bells at Holy Ascension. It was a joyful opportunity to hide something on purpose, anticipating now the joy that we hope will be experienced in unearthing the contents on the Feast of the Holy Ascension, 40 days after Easter, in the year 2113.
An antique bronze cross used in our first services when we were in a bookstore.
Palms from this year’s Palm Sunday Service. A Service Book from the 2008 Consecration of our church by our beloved, and ever-memorable Archbishop Dmitri.
An archival photograph of our parish from the eve of our parish feast last Wednesday.
A copy of the day’s newspapers, both The Post and Courier and the Moultrie News.
Letters from three parish children, along with their school pictures. Lists of those baptized and received into our parish during this our first decade.
It was a joy for us to recall in our own living memory, the people, places and things related to these time-capsule objects. It is a special pleasure, and a rather surreal one, to prepare these as a gift to our children’s children’s children’s children.
When the time capsule is opened, I will have been at least 40 years buried, presuming I live to 100. Do we think much in these terms?
In our throw-away culture, I am afraid to admit that I more often than not am thinking only about now and my own lifetime. Of course, I “know” that there will be a time when I am buried in the ground, and my wife and children, too. But we don’t “live” there. The time capsule gave me a chance to contemplate the reality of my own mortality.
And what about the portion of the Berlin Wall that William Hamilton threw into the foundation of the church as it was being poured? We hadn’t documented that anywhere! What an amazing way to sanctify a stone that had been used previously to divide a world. So I wrote about that in the letter I enclosed.
The burial of the time capsule reminded me also of Jesus’ own burial, a burial that also was temporary.
Whereas we ask our progeny to wait 100 years to unearth this time capsule, Jesus was unearthed, risen from the dead, after three days. What eternal and divine treasure!
The time capsule also taught me to keep before me the practice of not simply looking for treasure but leaving it. The joy of a child’s face on Christmas opening a present is one we can live daily.
One of the prayers in our wedding service asks God to give ample supply of bread, wheat, wine and oil (read “the necessities of life”) so that the couple “might be a blessing to others.”
And how exciting to be a blessing to others both intentionally and with a degree of surprise and treasure.
In piecing this all together, I prayed for all those who have been a part of our parish by name since its inception. For the friends and benefactors and neighbors of our church. For the faithfulness and good health of those who will follow us. This church time capsule was much more than I expected. Not just an event to mark a decade of blessings and beauty but also a soul-adjustment for one often trapped in the myopia of the routine of every day.
Father John Parker, pastor of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Mount Pleasant’s I’On community. He can be reached at email@example.com or 881-5010.