Harvesting Treasures


This fall, my two-year-old niece has taken up a fascination with acorns. She clutches as many acorns as she can possibly hold in her toddler-sized hand, leaving one hand free for picking up more. She calls them her “treasures.” As I watch her carefully turn over in her hand each acorn—studying it, delighting in it, proudly presenting her collection to me, and then eagerly looking for more—I feel invited to join her in harvesting treasures of my own.

The cornerstone practice of Ignatian prayer, the Examen, could be reimagined as a harvest of sorts. Like my niece gathering acorns, each of us is invited to notice the ways in which God is present in our everyday experiences—to see these moments with wonder, to turn them over in our hearts and minds, to hold them dear, and to rummage for more. Just as the Examen calls us to review the places in which we experience closeness or distance from God, autumn invites us to harvest what is life-sustaining and to release that which should fall away.

Perhaps this autumn we can prayerfully harvest the delights, gifts, and surprises of the past season and treasure them. We can harvest treasured moments of laughter, joy, and connection and give thanks. Perhaps we can harvest even the challenges that have stretched us, the difficulties that have sharpened us, and the struggles that we sit with for a time; maybe someday we will learn to treasure these too. Maybe this autumn we can let go of the compulsions that grip us; we will let those fall away. We let fall away our stuck places, our entrapments, and our clutching. In prayer, we clear out that which holds us back and we make space for what is to come.

May we trust God’s invitation to harvest the abundance of this season and to treasure what we find there.

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Elizabeth Eiland Figueroa
Elizabeth Eiland Figueroa is a clinical social worker in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Boston College, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and served in Seattle at a community mental health agency. Inspired by her experience as a JV, she moved to St. Louis to pursue a Master’s in Social Work and studied the integration of spirituality and psychotherapy. She continues to marvel at God’s movements in her life.


  1. I had theses exact thoughts as I was walking my dog around the park in the early morning and watching the mist rise around the autumn leaves. Treasures are indeed everywhere!

  2. Beautiful reflection. Thank you. I love the image of “harvesting” the treasures of the day and turning them over in our hearts and minds. Young children teach us so much, especially how to notice, and take delight in, and wonder about the world. Sixty years ago, when I was seven, I used to spend hours in the alley behind our house looking for gold. I had a hammer with me to split rocks open. I found some actual crystal geodes which amazed me and some unusual veins of ore or something. I treasured them all. These good memories help me find that place in my heart again, to find those treasures in my day today. Thanks again.


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