pearls. The odd thing was, that as much as she
loved them, no one was allowed to buy them for
her. She would often buy herself pearls, only
for them to disappear. We never understood this.
How a person could lose something as valuable as
pearls and not seem to worry or care that they
lost them, was beyond our small minds and
bedroom dresser was another reminder of how
peculiar she was. It was a small golden
delicately carved in the fine gold. Instead of
using this beautiful and valuable box for the
safe keeping of her pearls, nestled in the soft
purple lining were a thorn and a mustard seed.
Often, she would loving and tearfully look at
the contents or delicately touch the box.
How we laughed
at Granny. She was such a foolish old woman to
keep such nonsense and worthless items in this
priceless box all the while unable to keep track
of the real valuables.
Granny was in
her seventies when she was diagnosed with
How angry I was
at her God for allowing such a disease to attack
and ravish her body. How angry I was at her for
the calmness and acceptance she had of her
inevitable death. I watched as my lively
grandmother became bedridden.
I was sixteen
the year she died. I cried for myself, for I
knew that life would never be the same without
her. And I was angry at her for leaving. I was
angry at God for allowing her to suffer so much
before He took her away.
The whole town
turned out for Granny's funeral. Again, I was
angered. Instead of tears and mourning, I saw
smiles, laughter and celebration. It seemed as
if they were having a grand party instead of a
funeral. Then, one by one people started coming
up to the platform to speak, each carrying two
small boxes with them.
The first to
speak was the woman who ran the shelter for
abused women. As she spoke, chills began to
creep up my spine. "I was married for years to a
man who both mentally and physically abused me.
Even though I lived in terror with him, the
though of leaving also frightened me. I had two
small children and nowhere to go."
"It was Granny
who came to my rescue. At first, she placed in
my hand this box with a thorn and mustard seed
inside. You can imagine my surprise when I saw
what she had given me. But, I listened to her as
told me the reason. Granny explained that
everyone has thorns in their lives they must be
pricked by, but that with the faith of a mustard
seed, any obstacle could be overcome and turned
around for good, for themselves and others."
"It was Granny
who gave me the courage to leave my abusive
husband. She helped me find a place for me and
my children. When I approached her about
starting a shelter for other women so they would
also have a place to turn to, she smiled and
handed me this pearl. Although I have always
treasured the pearl, my most precious treasures
have been this box with the thorn and mustard
seed. Many times when I have faced difficulties,
I have looked at them and heard her words."
Next in line
was the man who ran the alcohol and drug center.
He cleared his throat as he began to speak. "I
met Granny under the worst possible
circumstances that I could have met anyone. I
was an alcoholic at the young age of eighteen
when I was involved in a car accident that
killed a young sixteen-year-old boy. You can
imagine my motions when his mother came up to
the jail to visit me. I was prepared for the
worst; anger and accusations. What I was not
prepared for was the love and forgiveness I
"She told me
she knew that her son was with God and that she
would someday be reunited with him. She also
gave me this box with the thorn and mustard seed
with the same explanation that you all well
know. When I went to court, they wanted to put
me in prison for manslaughter. Granny convinced
them that I needed help and not punishment. She
even offered to pay for the treatment."
center was the cure that I needed. Granny helped
me to get the grants to go to college. After I
graduated, I saved every penny I could and a few
years later took the money to Granny to repay
her, but, she refused the money. So, I used the
money to get our local treatment center
On the first
day I opened the center, Granny also gave me
this box with the pearl. Do I need to tell you
which is the most priceless to me?"
beautician spoke next. "I was fifteen, unmarried
and pregnant when I met Granny. I was a
frightened child about to have a child. I had
already scheduled to have an abortion. I felt
this was the only option that I had. Granny
talked me out of having the abortion and to
adopt my child out instead. She said I carried a
gift from God that would be a gift to a
childless couple. And yes, like many of you, I
received the box with the thorn and mustard
seed. Granny was with me when I gave birth to my
son and when I gave him to his new family."
"She helped put
me through school so I could become a
She also gave
me my box with the pearl. But the story does not
end there. The family who adopted my son was a
loving and Christian family, and my son grew up
to be a fine doctor. He has saved many lives in
his years, including many of yours."
story was told about Granny and her gifts of
thorns, mustard seeds and pearls. How ashamed I
was as I thought about the countless of times I
laughed over Granny losing her precious pearls
but keeping the golden box.
How livid I was
with God for taking such a loving woman from us!
minister began to speak. "My parents were
atheists and raised me the same way. Granny was
my neighbor for many years. I often scoffed at
her and her "God", yet, at the same time was
amazed by and envied her faith, her serenity and
the peace that she had. Many times I would visit
Granny when I was troubled, just to get a taste
of her peace. It took Granny a lot longer to
convert me then most, but, she was patient. She
kept praying for me and always had her door
"One day I was
facing what I thought was a major life crisis
and went to talk to Granny. That was the day she
gave me my box with the thorn and mustard seed.
It was also the day I accepted Christ as my
Savior. When I opened my first church, Granny
then gave me my box with the pearl."
Then slowly, he
opened an envelope and took out the folded paper
inside. "Granny asked me to read this at her
funeral. It was sealed when she gave it to me,
and she made me promise not to open it until
began to read:
Family, and I say family, for we are all family
in the eyes of God.
Many of you
have been receptionists of my boxes.
everyone understands the meaning behind the
thorns and mustard seed, today, I will explain
the meaning behind your pearls.
As most of
you know, a pearl is a gemstone that is made by
different mollusks such as oysters. But let's
see how they are made. The making of a pearl is
not very pretty and is painful to the mollusk.
The start of a pearl is a piece of sand, rock,
body of a bug or parasite that gets trapped
inside the shell. Inside the mollusk is an inner
layer of shell that is made of a lustrous
material called "nacre," or mother of pearl.
When something gets stuck in its shell, it
irritates the oyster, so in defense, the oyster
isolates the irritation by gradually coating it
with layer after layer of nacre, making the
object less dangerous and irritating to its soft
oyster keeps adding more layers of this
material, the pearl grows bigger and becomes
more rounded. It is a slow process that can take
up to three or more years for a mature oyster to
produce a pearl large enough to become valuable.
lives, you have all had these painful irritants,
which you have had to coat. You have had to take
something painful and create a beautiful,
I know many
of you have wondered why I have had to endure
cancer and die the death I did. Even though I
may not have an answer to that, I do know this,
God was with me through each painful step of my
disease comforting me with His Holy Spirit.
Do not cry
for me, but, celebrate what has been given to
me. Even though I had to endure this painful
experience, today I get to collect my gemstone,
I get the biggest pearl of my life - I go home
to Our Father.
golden box, with its thorn and mustard seed,
sits atop my dresser.