"Pearls, unlike other jewels, are drawn from the animate creation. They are produced by life—a life which has reacted to and overcome the working of death. When the oyster is wounded, it secretly, in the depths, produces its pearl.
"It was through the wounding of Jesus for our transgressions that His life was released to us, a part of His Body. By a divine miracle 'a glorious church' was thereby brought into being, bearing throughout, in faultless integrity, the moral character of Christ. And Matthew 13 suggests to us how infinitely precious to the Father is that most goodly pearl..." Watchman Nee
Oceana Oyster was young and somewhat frivolous. She loved to frolic about, flapping her bivalve in rhythm with the swaying emerald seaweed. Rocky Shoal was as far as Mother-of-Pearl allowed her to float. Sandbank was positively out-of-bounds.
"It's a dangerous place," warned Mother-of-Pearl. "Ollie Octopus always hangs around there. The sand gets all stirred up when he twirls his tentacles. Sand isn't good for Our Family, you know."
Oceana paid little attention. She had heard that caution a thousand times ever since she was in Oyster Bed nursery. She didn't have the slightest idea why flying sand was bad for The Family—and she never thought to ask.
"You must settle down soon and 'get attached,'" advised Mother-of-Pearl. "That will keep you safe."
Oceana plugged her bivalves so she wouldn't hear that horrid suggestion. Becoming attached would limit her adolescent freedom. So, ignoring the warning, she recklessly floated off limits as usual one morning. Sure enough, Ollie and his cousin Ornery Octopus were chasing each other through the seaweed. What fun! I don't see what harm to play with them for awhile, thought Oceana.
She fearlessly propelled herself toward Sandbank. "Ouch! Something has filtered into my shell—it's scratchy! I can't get it out!" whined Oceana.
She bobbed this way and that, even turning a few somersaults. But she could not dislodge the pesky grain of sand. Mother-of-Pearl would surely scold her for going to Sandbank. Disheartened and dreading the consequences of her disobedience, Oceana drifted slowly back to Oyster Bed where she lived with the rest of Mollusk Family.
She headed straight for her secret hiding place beneath Rock Corner and sank as far as she could out of sight. Oceana peeked out and saw the rest of The Family gathering to share the events of the day. She hoped no one would notice her until she got rid of that foreign object. How aggravating it was! Over and over she rotated her soft body against the irritating substance, but she could not detach it.
Nothing ever escaped Mother-of-Pearl's keen eyes. She spotted her young oyster child secluded in the shadows. "What's the matter, Oceana? Come join the rest of The Family."
Reluctantly, Oceana obeyed. Nothing could remain a secret in Oyster Bed for very long, so she confessed to Mother-of-Pearl what happened. Her parent held her tenderly close and rocked her thoughtfully in the gentle currents of sheltered Oyster Bed. Then she decided. "We must call a Family Council for advice."
Being a junior oyster, Oceana was obliged to listen to the instruction of her elders. They were usually right and things turned out well from their counsel. But at this particular Family Council everyone expressed a different opinion. They asked Oceana to float to the center of the circle. Her pale complexion turned pink with embarrassment as she felt everyone's eyes upon her.
Aunt Molly Mollusk recommended, "Pretend it isn't there. It will go away. That's what I always do about things I don't like."
Cousin Marvin Mussel, the pushy relative who was always flexing his bulging bivalves, boomed rudely, "Keep your shell shut, youngster. Don't complain. After all, it isn't an ocean-shaking problem. We have enough to worry about with aliens invading our territory. Those humans are body-snatching us and depleting our Oyster Family."
"Just keep working on it no matter how long it takes," offered Charlie Clam. "Sooner or later you'll get it out. Be patient. By all means you must get rid of it."
Mellifluous Mellita Sand Dollar was not part of the Mollusk Family but she overheard the discussion when she happened to propel by and wanted to put in her two cents worth. "It's an environmental issue. Oyster Bed is too near that depreciating Sandbank community. You should all relocate to a higher class neighborhood like we sea urchins did. We now have a fashionable piece of real estate at Ocean Bottom."
Steven Starfish was not a relative either but was presently dating Mellita Sand Dollar. Some whispered that he had stars in his eyes with the intention of becoming attached and acquiring her family inheritance. Steven asserted, "You are a victim—you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time." He could not talk without gesturing and looked very authoritative as he radiated his five arms from his central disk. "Ollie Octopus is the one who is guilty. I'm sure that Attorney Allen Alligator would be glad to represent you. You should sue Ollie in Coral Court along with his cousin Ornery, the accomplice. If you win the case you'll strike it rich. Then it won't matter how uncomfortable you are."
Arriving late as usual, Sophie Scallop clapped her fluted shell valve together rapidly to gain everyone's attention. She was the much respected matriarch of The Family and the keeper of the Oceanic Archives. Her radial ribs and wavy outer edges made her look much younger than her years. Surely she would have some good advice from her long experience.
"First of all, we shouldn't allow non-Family opinions from those two intruders," she swayed toward Mellita and Steven. "They are only echinoderms. This concern is exclusively for Ostreidae Family." Sophie enjoyed flaunting her extensive vocabulary. Rumor had it that she was seen hanging around with a professor from The School of Fish off Coral Reef.
"Personally, I think it's heredity. The records show that Oceana's great, great grandmother, Odessa Oyster, encountered a similar problem. No one knows exactly what caused it, but she failed on three attempts to get rid of some kind of object in her shell. Even the famous surgeon, Dr. Sylvester Swordfish, operated on her unsuccessfully. They say she finally stopped trying to get rid of it. She accepted her plight and covered the object with her teardrops, making herself as comfortable as possible under the circumstances."
The Mollusk Family members were spellbound. You could have heard a fishhook drop. Sophie Scallop continued, "The senior oysters at Coral Reef who remember Odessa say that she was never heard to complain. Gradually the inner rough place became smooth. She not only learned to live with her handicap, but she became one of the happiest and most respected oysters in the Colony."
"But that's not all!" Sophie paused for effect, savoring the attention of her audience like an actress in the spotlight. "Odessa was attached by then and living at Cleftin Rock with her own family. They say she always kept her shell closed in the daytime, but when the moon came out at night, so the story goes, she would open...her...shell...and...."
The Family seemed frozen with suspense. "...and then, some say, they saw a beautiful iridescent, lustrous Treasure in her shell! It was dazzling white with a bluish tinge—like a dewdrop in the moonlight! And no one knew where it came from! They called her Princess Odessa ever after."
Sophie finished with a clap of her shell valve for effect. Or maybe she was just out of breath.
"Oh...ah...oo...." all the Mollusks exclaimed, awed by Sophie's account. They had never heard such a spectacular tale about one of their Family ancestors.
Oceana Oyster was enchanted with the legend. She swayed gently in the currents of Oyster Bed thinking deep and serious thoughts far beyond her age. How thrilling and wonderful to be descended from a real princess! But distress from the irritating grain of sand in her shell constantly intruded upon her musings.
Would it be possible, she pondered, could she do the same as her royal great, great grandmother? Could she cover the foreign object with her teardrops? And would she, too, become a happy oyster no matter how uncomfortable she might feel? Her bivalve shell quivered in anticipation.
Oceana floated off to her secluded, secret place under Rock Corner. The rest of The Family were still chattering excitedly about Princess Odessa and seemed to have forgotten all about her.
Her teardrops began to fall on the grain of sand in her shell. But they were tears of joy and anticipation more than sadness or frustration. Yes, she decided, young as she was, she would accept the problem that life had brought her even if it was her fault. She would follow the example of her noble ancestor.
Sure enough, day by day as the rough place was bathed both with her teardrops and her smiles, it became smoother and less painful.
Now they tell another story at Coral Reef: A happy oyster maiden was given a new name after The Ostreidae Family made an amazing discovery. A dazzling Special Treasure had appeared in her shell, too!
And ever afterward they addressed Oceana Oyster respectfully by the royal title of Princess Pearl!
PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
issue of animate creation
produced by life in conflict with
wrought in darkness
overcoming the consequence
of a wound and
producing a gem of value
issue of supernatural creation
PEARL of greatest price
no greater sacrifice
than the Very Christ
in sinless integrity
wounded for me
crucified in agony
risen in glory
overcoming the dominion
producing a glorious Church:
the PEARL of utmost delight
to the Bridegroom!
From THE RESOURCE BOOK
2 Cor. 12:7-10 NASB
"And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—
to keep me from exalting myself!
Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
Isaiah 40:4b,5 Modern Language Bible
"...and all rough places made smooth...then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
(From Leona's forthcoming fiction/fantasy book
GOTHIC ARCHIE AND OTHER IMAGINEERINGS)
GOTHIC ARCHIE AND OTHER IMAGINEERINGS)