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TITLE: Finding Treasure 7-18-13
By Bonnie Rose Hudson

For junior-high and high-school girls
“Sometimes I weary of the ceremony, Anna. I wish my father would spend as much time tending the needs of his family as he does tending to the needs of the court.”

“Maria, don’t speak that way of the king,” Anna scolded as she brushed Maria’s hair.

“I mean it! I am sixteen years old today, and do you know I’ll not see my father until the royal reception this evening? He’s not stopped to wish me well on my special day, he’s not even sent a courier with a note of greeting.”

“But, he is throwing you a marvelous reception and ball tonight.”

“Is he, Anna, is he really throwing it for me? Or, is he throwing it for himself?”

“What do you mean?”

“If he didn’t have the reception, people would talk. It’s simply what he must do. But, how can I know if he wants to do it or not?”

“He’s spared no expense. The cook told me he is having sixteen special dishes prepared, one for every year of your life. And, he gave you the tiara made from the Brazilian diamonds the merchants have brought back.”

“He loves beautiful things, and he loves to have people see all his beautiful things. But, does he love me? Does anyone really love me?”

“How can you say such words? Many love you, Maria!”

“You, perhaps, but the others? No, they are happy when I am playing my part, the dutiful princess I was born to be. But how can they love me when they’ve never taken the time to really know me? Is there one person who knows that I love chicken and despise pheasant? Or, that I would rather walk in the rose garden at twilight than on the seashore at dawn? Does anyone know how my heart skips a beat when I think of the moment I will one day hold a daughter of my very own or help her learn to walk? Does anyone know how frightened I feel when I think of the day my hair will turn gray and my face will sag and I am no longer a lovely princess but an old woman?”

Anna set the tortoise shell brush on the dresser as Maria stood and began to pace the marble floor.

“Those are the secret things of your heart, Maria. Who can know such things?”

“My father could, if he ever took the time to talk to me—and really listen.”

Shade settled on the room as the breeze chased the clouds across the sun.

“The sky matches my mood, Anna,” Maria said.

Just then, the clouds fled, and sunlight poured through the window, seeming to focus on the painting that hung beside her bed. The painting was of the prophet Isaiah. Her mother had given it to her when she was just a girl.

“Did not the priest read from the book of Isaiah only last Sunday, Maria?”

Maria shook her head yes.

“What was the part you told me after dinner?”

“The priest said that it is written, ‘Fear not: for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior… Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee…’”

“And you ask me if anyone loves you, my beautiful princess?”

Maria batted a tear from her cheek and walked to the window. “But what about when I am not beautiful, Anna?”

“The priest’s message didn’t end there. You told me that he read from another part of Isaiah, too.”

Maria whispered the words. “He said God told His children that even to their old age and gray hairs, He would carry them.”

“Maria, I can’t speak for the king of this palace. But, you have a Father and a King who loves you very much. And, I know He is so happy that you were born.”

Maria threw her arms around Anna as the sunlight streamed in through the windows, carrying both women closer to their forever Father.
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