Rhonda Cagle

Fool’s Gold

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm

It was the mid-1970s when I had the opportunity to look for gold. In actuality, it was a summer church field trip to an abandoned gold mine in Arizona. But in my all-too-vivid childhood imagination, it was a bus ride straight to adventure and fortune. As the bus bumped its way across the dusty backroads of Arizona’s desert, my mind clouded with the vision of the untold riches that were sure to be waiting for me when the bus stopped. I carefully examined the macramé bag that rested in my lap. It held everything a seven-year-old girl would need for the journey: cherry chapstick, the newest Mad Libs book my mother had bought me, a mini-pencil that needed sharpening, a handful of Kleenex my grandmother had insisted I take along, and my plastic bubblegum pink wallet emblazoned with a lemon yellow cross. I was especially proud of my wallet as I had earned it in my Sunday School class as a result of reciting from memory all the weekly verses assigned for that past quarter. I carefully evaluated these treasures, wondering if my macramé bag would be large enough to hold them in addition to the gold I was sure to bring home.

I stepped off the bus and found myself giddy with excitement as the tour guide explained how I would soon be searching for gold. Before long, I was bringing bucketfuls of dirt back to a sorting station. I expectantly shook the contents of my bucket onto a sieve. Back and forth, over and over, I shook the sieve from side to side; my eyes carefully looking for the nuggets of gold that would be left sitting on top of the mesh while everything else fell below into the waste pile.

As the day wore on, my anxiety grew. I found quartz, copper, an arrowhead – even fool’s gold – but nothing of real value. The waste pile beneath my sieve grew larger as my hope for gold grew smaller. As the sun was casting late afternoon shadows over the desert landscape, I climbed back on the bus clutching my macramé bag. There was no gold inside but somehow it felt heavier – probably the weight of disappointment.

The past few weeks, I’ve thought often about that long-ago day. Life feels a lot like that sieve. Back and forth, over and over, it shakes; its violent motion sifting between what I know and what I think I know. Most of what was once truth now lies like fool’s gold in the growing waste pile.

I’m sad. Wiser. Cautious. Solitary. I’m also curious, wondering what will remain when life stops shaking. At the end of the day, I’m sure I’ll come away with the same treasures I originally brought with me – faith, hope, and love. But I’ve found no gold, and life somehow feels heavier.

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  1. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Rhonda – found you! Faith, hope, and love are beautiful treasures indeed.

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