Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Acres of Diamonds

Decades ago, I read an inspirational pamphlet
that contained an excerpt from Russel Conwell's
speech "Acres of Diamonds."
Conwell was a former Civil War soldier, writer, lawyer, and
pastor and founder of Temple University in Pennsylvania.
The speech was first given in the years following the Depression of 1873, 
and it is an exhortation to grow spiritually and financially rich.

photo courtesy of

The speech is available in its entirety here:
It is very long, and filled with many stories about men
who left home to seek their fortunes, only to find that the riches they sought
were already in their own backyards all along.
Although many of the speech's sentiments are somewhat dated,
the core message: to find your spiritual prosperity right where you are, is timeless.

For years, the title "acres of diamonds" has stuck in my mind.
Not because of the message, which apparently didn't stick with me very long.
What remained with me was this visual image:
 the beauty of acres of glittering, sparkling diamonds.
In Conwell's story, an Arabic priest describes diamonds as 
"congealed drops of sunlight."
And my imagined acres of sparkling diamonds 
would surely be filled with a tiny drop of sun
and probably a rainbow too.

photo courtesy of

One of the things that I've found unique to Virginia
is that our roadways are full of tiny flecks of mica.
I'm not sure why that is, but I've been many places where the pavement
has no sparkle.

On a sunny day, the road before us stretches out with thousands of tiny sparkles.
At night, the road glitters in the street lights like a million diamonds cast by hand.
Those are my acres of diamonds.
Finding the sparkle in one's everyday world--
really the only diamonds we'll ever need.

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