by Roseanna M. White
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? As a homeschooling mom, I’ve created my fair share of homemade maps, scavenger hunts and nature journals. Like most kids, mine loved the idea of searching for and discovering something new. When we’ve traveled, their favorite activities always included being let loose to explore the “hidden” gems of nature, be it a shrubbery maze, a rock formation or a cavern behind a waterfall.
This instinct to search and find and take joy in discovery is part of human nature that I like to think helps us draw a little closer to the Lord—we can look on His creation and find it good, learn more about our Creator through the things He fashioned with His hand and expand our minds and hearts in the process.
As I wrote a series of historical novels that revolve around a hunt for pirate treasure, though, I was reminded yet again of how treasure takes many forms. There is something exciting about the thought of buried gold and jewels, to be sure—and of the history we can learn through those hunts. But as I sent my characters around on an actual treasure hunt, I wanted them to find something different too . . . I wanted them to rediscover the treasure of their own families and communities.
Have you ever gone through a family member’s attic? I helped my grandmother sort through hers before she downsized, and though I was there to be the young back crawling through the eaves and pushing boxes to her, I ended up being far more—I ended up the recipient of all her stories. As she pulled out each box, she told me about the item inside, who gave it to her, whether it was a gift or an heirloom, which family members loved this and that. I heard about the chair with the bullet hole in the leg, about the “new history” book from the 1890s, about the Latin text her teacher had given to her in high school because she was her favorite student. I left my grandmother’s house that day with a car full of heirloom pieces she’d passed along to me . . . and with a head swimming with stories. Now, two decades later, I still treasure all those things. I think of my grandmother and her family every time I pull out one of the dainty etched glasses, just as I think of her and her Latin prowess every time my daughter draws out her own Latin textbook.
As Christians, we all know that our true treasure must be stored up in heaven. But I think one way we can access a bit of that here on earth is by sharing our memories with each other. Some of the most precious things in the world are the stories we tell sitting around a crackling fire or lounging by the water in the summer. When’s the last time you sat with a family member and reminisced? Have you ever considered writing down the tales they tell, to preserve them for the next generation? Or even recording them with audio or video? If you take the time to do so, you’ll be creating a treasure trove you can rediscover again and again.
In To Treasure an Heiress, my characters discover stories from their village that the heroine’s mother and brother had been recording. Family stories, folklore, legends . . . tales about who they were and why. Stories like that are what create in us an identity that can be carried forward, that can allow others to understand us and identify with us—and allow us to do the same with them.
Perhaps you and I will never discover any pirate treasure (though that’s no reason not to go out looking and enjoying nature in the process!). But there are treasures untold waiting within our families, our communities and our towns. There are stories just waiting to be told, to be heard and to be cherished. This summer, leave your metal detectors and shovels at home, but grab your phone, a notebook and a pen . . . and get digging. I bet you’ll discover something more precious than gold or silver.
Roseanna M. White is the best-selling, Christy Award-winning writer of dozens of historical novels. When not writing, she’s homeschooling her kids, designing covers, managing WhiteFire Publishing and pretending her house will clean itself. You can learn more at RoseannaMWhite.com and find her on @RoseannaMWhite on all social media platforms.