Standing in Huish Episcopi church yesterday morning again brought to mind an old Jewish story used on numerous occasions when preaching. It’s a story about searching for treasure in in order to find contentment of heart.
The story is told of Isaac the son of Jacob, a Jewish rabbi living near the Polish city of Cracow many years ago.
One night Isaac the son of Jacob had a strange dream – he dreamt there was treasure buried under the bridge to the imperial palace in the Czech city of Prague. “What a strange dream”, thought Isaac to himself when he woke the next day. The next night Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream: under the bridge to the imperial palace there was treasure buried. “What a remarkable dream”, thought Isaac to himself the next day, “the same dream two nights in a row”. That night, Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream for a third time, there was treasure buried under the bridge to the palace in Prague.
Having the same dream three nights in a row clinched the decision in Rabbi Isaac’s mind – he must go to Prague to find this treasure. Prague was many, many miles from Cracow and for an old rabbi it was a long and hard walk.
When he reached Prague he found that the imperial palace was heavily guarded, many of the guards were guarding the bridge – the rabbi knew there was no hope in digging for treasure here.
He was spotted by the captain of the guard. “What are you doing here, old man?” asked the captain.
The rabbi decided he might as well tell the truth. “I had a dream that there was treasure buried under this bridge”.
The captain of the guard roared with laughter, “Treasure under the bridge indeed. You silly old man, are you not old enough not to believe in dreams? I myself had a dream last week. I dreamt there was treasure buried in the house of a rabbi called Isaac the son of Jacob. What would you make of that dream, old man?”
Isaac the son of Jacob said nothing. He turned and walked back to his home outside of Cracow. Digging up the floor of his house, he found the treasure of his dreams, enough to Isaac and his family for years to come.
Some years ago, there was a moment of feeling what it must have been like to have been Isaac the son of Jacob when visiting an exhibition of the work of Edward Burne-Jones at the art gallery in Birmingham. Notes on Burne-Jones’ canvas of the Epiphany said that Burne-Jones depiction of the Nativity was to be found at Huish Episcopi church in Somerset. This was one of the churches in my home parish, but I had never taken sufficient notice of the church interior to see the treasure it contained.
Standing in front of the window yesterday, I wondered what other treasures I might have casually missed.