The deepest hunger in Life is a secret that is revealed only when a person is willing to unlock a hidden part of the self. In the ancient traditions of wisdom, this quest has been likened to diving for the most precious pearl in existence, a poetic way of saying that you have to swim far out beyond shallow waters, plunge deeply into yourself, and search patiently until the pearl beyond price is found.
Many years ago, 1986 to be exact, long before I began my journey as a contemplative photographer, I found this oyster shell on a beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My friend who was with me when I made my discovery said I should have it removed and made into a pendent. I said no, I wanted to keep it as it was, a reminder of the possibility of finding beauty in the most unlikely places. It was my first "contemplative souvenir".
I now gather my pearls of wisdom through my contemplative photography. It is always such a wonderful occurrence...a pearl beyond price. By now I have enough symbolic pearls to make hundreds of necklaces! But this first pearl holds special meaning for me.
I've kept this little oyster shell on my shelf since I first brought it home. It has traveled with me to many homes before settling into my farmhouse in Maine in 1995. I look at it now in a whole new light. Each of us carries a precious pearl inside of us and daily we can marvel at its beauty. Self-wisdom is perhaps the most valuable pearl of all.
I never imagined the journey I would undertake 19 years later when I took up my camera again. Now I search for my symbolic pearls and I continue to find them, like this oyster shell, in the most unusual and nondescript places. That is the bit of wisdom that I am most thankful for.