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  • Jane Wheeler

The Making of a Pearl

The making of a pearl:

“A natural pearl begins its life inside an oyster's shell when an intruder, such as a grain of sand or bit of floating food, (or even a parasite) slips in between one of the two shells of the oyster, a type of mollusk, and the protective layer that covers the mollusk's organs, called the mantle.

In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk's shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the irritant until the iridescent gem is formed."

A pearl, that rare elusive treasure from the sea, is formed when an oyster, which if you take a look at it, is not a pretty creature, either the shell or the actual slimy oyster, gets an irritation. Irritated the slimy oyster coats the irritant with this beautiful mother-of-pearl coating called nacre.

It takes 1 to 6 years for a freshwater pearl to form and in the ocean it can take 5 to 20 years. The world’s largest salt water pearl weighing over 34 kilograms has a value of over $200 million dollars.

Any mollusk that produces a shell can form a pearl. Although oysters produce most pearls, abalone, mussels, sea snails, and clams can create pearls but it is much rarer.

National Geographic says that a pearl of value is found in less than 1 in 10,000 pearl oysters so your chances of finding one in the wild are pretty slim.

What I love about pearls is this concept of the oyster covering the irritant with beauty and it does it more than once to the same irritant. A pearl contains several layers of nacre, and depending on how long the irritant is in the pearl is the determining factor of how large the pearl gets. Some oysters live for up to 40 years.

I liken the pearl making process to people. Pearls come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes - how like people!

How many of us when asked if there is a person or people who irritate us can think of a list of names.

What if we instead of reacting to the irritation or pain, react more like the oyster? What if instead of reacting, cursing, shunning or even pushing away, we take on the challenge to cover that irritating person with beauty?

What could that look like?

How about forgiveness? Kindness? Compassion? Mercy?

Could it be that perhaps we begin to see the irritating person as God sees them, a special creation, wholly and dearly loved by God. A treasure just for who they are.

I do not know what it would look like but I wonder what this world could be like if we choose to create beauty when irritated or hurt instead of reacting? How long would it take to produce a person of great beauty? Are we prepared for years?

It seems the answers and the onus is on us. An interesting thought.

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