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A pearl of great price

From the September 2, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

When I was a little girl, our home was always filled with music, including classical, jazz, and swing. I loved watching my parents drop all their work-a-day cares to dance across the kitchen floor to the sound of Glenn Miller’s classic “A String of Pearls.” There was just something “perfect” about that recording, with a title that had to do with every note being in place and shining like pearls in a necklace.

When I remember that tune, I can’t help thinking of a well-known Bible passage from Matthew 13 in which Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a merchant “seeking goodly pearls.” And, as the story goes, “when he had found one pearl of great price, [he] went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (verses 45, 46).

Finding that one pearl is something I’ve thought about a lot. I’ve yearned for a way to distill all the words and wisdom I’ve been exposed to into something as flawless as that pearl. For me, one of the recurring gems of wisdom is the idea of being present “in the moment”—accepting that one of life’s paradoxes is the acceptance that our future prospects so often relate to our ability to pay attention to the present, even though that can be daunting.

With my busy schedule as a wife, mother, and musician, it often seems as though my mind is much too busy living in “fast forward” even to catch a glimpse of the present! I so easily forget the Apostle Paul’s insistence that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

One of the recurring gems of wisdom is the idea of being present "in the moment."

For example, I vividly recall a morning when I’d burned the family breakfast, my son’s shoes were nowhere to be found, and I had a song to finish writing and a truck full of plants to unload—in the rain! Salvation couldn’t have seemed more unlikely, until I realized I hadn’t spared a single moment for prayer.

I reorganized myself. I thought of the opening lines of a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy: “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; / O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” (Poems, p. 4). I realized that living and planning each day with a firm awareness of that “gentle presence” transforms all the bits and pieces of our daily lives.

I took a deep breath, felt the rain on my face, and noticed how much greener everything looked in the misty air. I was filled with gratitude for that moment and released the need to judge it as anything less than perfect. As I unloaded those plants, I felt quietly content with things as they were, a joy in all the little details, and a fresh sense that there was plenty of time to accomplish all that needed to be done.

I recognized that effortless moment-by-moment communion with God’s “gentle presence” allows us to abandon will-based responsibility and enjoy every moment to the fullest, enriched by priceless pearls of insight and contentment. It was hard not to berate myself for not realizing those truths earlier that morning.

But, most important, I had caught sight of that pearl, learned to switch away from “fast forward,” and made room for healing prayer—and I still had time to take a spin across the kitchen floor with my husband to Glenn Miller’s “A String of Pearls”!

Désirée Goyette is a composer, church soloist, wife, and mother of twins. The family lives in San Francisco, California.

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