There are many reasons why I called this blog “La Perle”, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. But the other day I arrived early for a meet up with a friend and her little girl at the General Cemetery in Sheffield (now no longer used as a cemetery but as a public park). So I went for a stroll around, for the first time realising just how extensive the cemetery is. I stumbled across this enormous monument in one corner that I’d never seen before.
The inscription reads:
“To kindred friends and townsmen dear
A Christian merchant slumbers here
Who found while goodly pearls he sought
One pearl of price surpassing thought
Reader do likewise – he who finds and buys
that pearl, though he sell all he hath, is wise.”
This recalls the parable of Jesus about the pearl of great price:
“…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”Matthew 13.45-46
There are some things; moments, experiences, interactions between us, that everyone knows are extraordinary. The kind of moment when someone says something that is deeply true, maybe very vulnerable, some wisdom coming from somewhere beyond, which none of us can access at will, and yet any of us may find ourselves stumbling across unexpectedly. Those moments are to me like the pearl of great value.
I want to live my life like the merchant, open, expectant, looking for the pearls. And when I find one, I hope I will give up everything I have for it. This is an ongoing journey for me. There was a moment when I was much younger when I chose to follow Jesus. That decision involved letting go of other possible paths. It is a constant choice. And it is a risky option, requiring readiness to let go of all sorts of other things. But that pearl is so beautiful, I don’t regret anything I’ve given up for it.
The fact that I stumbled across such an explicit reminder of this wisdom in a cemetery only reinforces it for me. This is wisdom from beyond the grave. From the perspective of our mortality, what is wise? Or, as another friend put it to me a while ago, if we knew we only had another year, or just 3 months or 3 days to live, what would we do? What would be important?
This blog started as a travel blog as I visited friends and family around the world last year. On my travels I experienced many special moments with people, known and unknown to me, and also moments on my own in jaw dropping awe of creation. Each one of these moments was like a pearl of great price to me. It took a lot of effort to make the journey, and to make it I had to let go of a lot of things. It was worth every sacrifice and every penny. I’ve shared some of the pearls here, and there are many more still to add and marvel over.
May you also be a seeker after fine pearls. And when you find one, may you have the courage to let go of all the other stuff in order to claim it. “…She who finds and buys that pearl, though she sells all she hath, is wise”.