Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prospecting: Gold, Fool's Gold, and the high cost of attainment

Brief thoughts this morning.   On the jeep tour last week, the driver, Eric, asked the kids if they wanted to do some "prospecting".    He retrieved his hammer/axe, and off we went.    For us, prospecting was selectively walking around the river and collecting a few rocks, and expending some effort to break them open to see what's inside.

For the miners of not so many years ago, it was different.   They were chasing wealth, a fortune, and knew their lives would be changed forever.    That they were, but not necessarily for the better.   Eric shared how they used mercury as a separating agent in the refining process, ignorant of the health risks as they would manually squeeze refined mountain ore, mercury, and water through socks to see what they could ferret out of some value.  He explained that the life expectancy of the average miner was not too good, so who cared about a little extra poison in their system, even if they did know?     Brings new perspective to the phrase "ignorance is bliss".    

Thousands of mines dot the landscape in the mountains of Colorado.   Almost all of them are abandoned.   What happened?    Well, many did not find their fortune, after leaving home and family, and died at an early age.   For those who did "strike the mother lode", fortune was fleeting.   The U.S. went off the metal standard for its currency decades ago, and Gold, Silver, and other metal prices plummeted accordingly.   Mines shut down, whole towns disappeared, and fortunes were lost.

Now back to me, and to us as a generation and a society.   What fortunes are we chasing?    Is it real gold, or is it fool's gold?    And even if it is the real thing we pursue, how worthy is it?   Will it's value last, will it satisfy us, or will in tarnish, fade, or be lost in the sands of time.    I'm amazed by all the stories in the Old Testament about how everything was adorned with gold in Israel.    Where is all of that gold now?   Gone.    It has been plundered, melted, and recast again, and again, and again.    For all we know, some of it may be in your wedding band right now.

What is the price of the fortune we are chasing?    Our health?   Our family?    Our focus should be on what's really important: the lives and souls of others.

Matthew 6:19-20: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.

I came back with some cool "trinkets" from the prospecting.   They will sit in my office for years to come.    May they remind me of the true value of life, and what I should pursue each day.

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