The Kingdom of Fools

The Pearl of Great Price, engraving by John Everett Millais (1864)

The Pearl of Great Price, engraving by John Everett Millais (1864)

Into the fertile fields committed to the harvest wheat and tares are allowed to grow together
And the kingdom of heaven grows from the inconspicuous seed into the noxious bush
Making a mockery of the cedars of Lebanon or the towering cypress and majestic oaks
It bears no fruit and yet it grows resiliently much to the dismay of those who would cut it down
It is a foolish kingdom where a woman contaminates fifty pounds of flour with unclean leaven
Making that which could last throughout the year begin to mold and decay within a period of days
Perhaps only a kingdom filled with gluttons and tax collectors and sinners would merit
Such a wasteful exuberance, an amnesia of common sense and self-preservation
Only in a place where the harvest is thirty fold, or sixty fold or a hundred fold
Would such a feast be possible and such a kingdom endure for more than a fortnight
This scandalous kingdom where one finds what others have missed and to one’s profit
One goes to procure the field where the hidden treasure lays concealed from the world’s eyes
Where all common sense goes out the window to acquire a pearl of exceeding size
Laying aside the needs of the day and the needs of the future to acquire the one thing
The precious result of a long lasting irritant surrounded by the excretions of the fearful mollusk
And perhaps this foolish kingdom is less about some distant and unseen harvest where
Wheat is separated from weed and good fish from bad and fires and barns and markets are fed
But about the presence of the kingdom in the midst of all kinds of fish caught in the net
Where treasures new and old are brought out and put in the service of this crazy dream
And in the midst of the world which holds on with a death grip anxious for some feared future
The insane generosity and abundant belief begins to shape the lives and actions of the servants
Caught up in the inauguration of the kingdom of fools, disciples of a lord of foolish grace
And rather than being consumed by what to include and to exclude they learn to join the banquet
And to be a part of the kingdom that emerges slowly and patiently in their midst  
Neil White, 2014

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