Buried Treasures Can’t Breathe!

By Joanie Peters – Prairie Jubilee Alum

In my first year of Prairie Jubilee, I attended a 3 day silent retreat where I had an experience that continues to inform my choices and actions. I was drawn to the Ignatian spiritual exercise of using your imagination to place yourself fully within a Gospel story by having an imaginary exchange with the characters; both as an onlooker and as a participant.

I chose the parable of the hidden talents: Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27. I was drawn to this parable for two reasons; the first was that I heard the earnestness in the voice of the servant that buried his treasure and the second was that I was disturbed by the rage expressed by the master. I wanted the master to say to the servant, “I know you thought you were doing your best. Don’t worry. You can try again.”

So I entered the story and became the servant … who proudly and earnestly said to the master, “I know how important safety is for you! I kept your treasure safe by hiding it.” The master replied to me, “You are right. I am concerned with safety. Safety! Staying alive! Survival! Survival depends on aliveness. What is hidden does not grow and if it’s not growing, it’s dead. If it’s dead there is no survival.” In this exercise, I realized there are no second chances for dead talents. This is the source of the master’s rage. When talents are unused, their bounty is lost forever. The servant got the right message about safety but misfired on how to make that happen. Hiding is not safe. Risk is an intrinsic part of safety.

This message gives me courage to say yes when my automatic response might be no. Holding and hiding is my go-to nature. As an individual, I came here at a particular time in history, with this set of talents, born with my particular ancestry, in this city, with this partner etc. What have I got to lose by taking risks? What am I losing when I don’t? What would it take for an artist to use her tools?


Buried treasures can’t breath!

Oxygen arrived in the form of an opportunity to create and lead a workshop using art as a spiritual practice. I said yes. As I create this workshop there is an image for health that osteopaths use; a ping pong ball size light that is freely suspended and constantly changing and adjusting. This is what alive looks like to me and it is my hope that with the aid of my own contemplative practice this workshop I am co-creating will be alive with breath.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anaïs Nin



Joanie Peters is an alum of the Prairie Jubilee Program. She is a spiritual director and artist. You may reach Joanie at a.joanie.peters@gmail.com. If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Dale Bially.

The Jubilee Programs offer practical learning in spiritual growth, soul development and the art of spiritual direction. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario JubileePacific JubileePrairie Jubilee