I have been thinking about pearls a lot lately. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, hues, and origins. Some are natural; some are cultured. Some pearls are cheap, and others are very expensive. At its core (pun intended) all pearls start the same way-- with an irritation. A clam or oyster is perfectly happy with life when all of a sudden something gets in its mouth. It could be a particle of sand or rock or even the shell of a fellow mollusk. Between the constant irritation and the passage of time, a pearl is created.
The pearl is significant for many world religions and is found in many scriptures. It is fascinating to see how the interpretations play out, but this post is about me. For me: Pearl=Truth. Truth is natural, and truth is cultured. We find truth around us on a daily basis. We accept and reject various truths as they present themselves to us. Truth does not need to be a grand all encompassing claim to life and the secret to heaven. Most of our truths are found in our daily routines.
I have a ton of truths: I know the best time to take a shower in the evening and change into pajamas. I know how many hot sauce packets are needed to perfectly cover a Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell (and Macho Nachos from Del Taco). I know how much (and sometimes how little) soda to drink on a road trip to perfectly time the bathroom breaks with refueling the car. I know when to ride the subways and which lines to take to avoid the masses. My personal favorite truth: I know when to walk out of church because the three hours is up and the teacher is still teaching (because nothing ever good happens when teachers don't stop talking).
But just as some pearls are more valuable than other pearls, some truths are more valuable than other truths. The more valuable truths take time to discover and an even larger irritation. Call it an irritation; call it a struggle; our greatest truths are found when we are pushed (sometimes shoved) beyond our comfortable confines and confronted with daily dilemmas and personal conflicts that require us to evolve. As we eventually reconcile the differences in our lives, we are left with a pearl of truth. These pearls are precious and rare because we fought for them. We dove deeper into our spiritual oceans and held our breath longer despite the pain in our lungs and swam longer even as our limbs were failing to finally find this pearl. These are the truths we need to keep.
I may forget which rest stops are the cleanest, but I will remember how I came to know God. I will probably forget about my Cookie Monster pajamas when the fleece is no longer soft and super comfortable, but I will remember how I found happiness in a woman who lovingly pieced me back together after a terrible fall. The memories of schools and colleagues will eventually fade, but the lessons of parenthood are locked deep inside.
So anyways, I've been thinking about pearls a lot lately.