Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Desert Pearls

Having posted about vulnerability earlier, I am now in a vulnerable state myself.

Unintentionally, I have upset someone, who it seems was already in a fragile state. My activity or inactivity seem to have made them question their faith in me. No matter what I say to them right now, they have drawn conclusions that are at best half true.

Couple that with the feeling that I am being ignored by someone else right now, makes me feel very vulnerable.


I wear round my wrist a prayer bracelet called 'The Pearls of Life.' Created by Martin Lönnebo, Lutheran emeritus bishop in Sweden, writing about what drove him to make the first 'Pearls of Life', he writes'

'...The history is a long one, but the story is short.

While on the Mediterranean, I found myself on a fishing boat, which had been refitted for passenger use. An extremely early fall storm began to play with us and I thought of Paul, as he sailed on the Sea of Galilee. We finally safely got to the shore of an island with 47 souls, the priest of the village included.

As I sat, freezing, in a rented room with a notebook in my hands, I found myself drawing a rosary. I was longing for prayer, meditation and silence without words.

Perhaps it was that "wordlessness" which spoke to me most clearly. I knew that I could get some help obtaining silence by breathing deeply and listening to my own breathing, and I somehow managed to do that. But meditation also includes an inner picture and prayer also includes words. And, as usual, that's where I got some difficulties. I couldn't get help from my heartbeat as the Russian pilgrim had. The "prayer that doesn't cease" was far away--but longing was present.

And so, I found myself sitting, drawing a rosary. Accompanied by the wind whistling around every corner, many pages were filled with my scribbles. I was pondering what is most important for a person when approaching The Creator. What is truly human in a human life? What is most important for a Christian, when approaching The Savior? How does a genuine Christian life look in our global and mistrusting age?

At first the rosary grew very long, and at last I felt it was like a trap full of demands. Then I decided to remove beads, one after another. Finally, there was only one left, and it was no longer a rosary. But the most important was there.

What was left was a large golden bead, an icon of the extreme worth and goal of existence - God. I considered it most important to have an absolute faith in God's existence and that "in him we live and move and have our being." It was no easy task to accomplish such an insight.

Now the rosary began to grow again. It is possible that we - hurt and broken wanderers - are unable to reach awareness of The Wholeness because of our own awareness about ourselves. So often we see ourselves as the opposite of The Wholeness. We are individuals. Each one of us has withdrawn into ourselves--frightened, cold, thirsting for tenderness. When we look in the eyes of our neighbor, we may for a moment, have a feeling of a lonely soul, who like us, thinks: "Don't you see how lonely I am? Do I dare to trust you?"

A lonely one meets a lonely one.

That's why I wanted the smallest bead to describe a poet's view of a soul. The bead along with the golden bead, also needed to be especially beautiful. It was to be a bead of mother-of-pearl, because of the reflections that could be seen in it. I was thinking about a genuine silver-glossed pearl from the depths of the ocean, carrying secrets of the deep up to the light.

In the pearl you can see yourself, the light and the sky. It carries the message that you, a human being, transcend boundaries. You are a mirror of infinite endlessness, and that is why you are enormously precious. Don't undervalue yourself. Look at yourself with love. You are a genuine pearl among others. Treat yourself and others with respect. You have a right to live willingly, bravely, lovingly and responsibly.

The icon of a human being in this rosary is not money (the current symbol of a successful person), nor a DNA molecule (a biological being), nor an onion which has many layers, but no core (a symbol of a postmodern individual), nor a black bead (a symbol of a desperate human being without hope, sin without forgiveness, a fallen human being, who does not believe in reconciliation, because God is dead). The pearl is an icon of a unique and precious image of God.

But we critical, complaining, desperate people, who undervalue human life, need special help to see and claim our dignity. We of little faith and broken hope need a guide in whom we can place our trust. And only the best can do. In our tradition there is nobody else but Christ himself, the persecuted master of life itself. Therefore, the other beads of the rosary carry the mysteries of Christ's life and the foundation of every human life. The rosary relates to each one of us.

The Wreath of Christ is tied to and owned by anyone who is seeking spiritual awareness and answers to the basic questions of human existence. That is why it is called Fralsarkransen (The Wreath of The Savior). It is a ring of wholeness and unity between humans and all things living, temporal and eternal, mortal and everlasting. When using it for personal prayer, Christ's words ... "Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us"... are manifested. So at last a little rosary was created, with eighteen beads that encompass the life of Christ and those who follow Him. The immense can be reflected by the modest. Only one who believes in miracles dares to tie the Wreath of Christ. And only one who is aware of the value of life can use it...'

Tonight I hold the brown pearl - feeling as though I am in a very barren place right now. The brown bead is a sign of the Desert in ones life, difficulties, trials, hard choices. It is hot and unpleasant in the desert. There is nobody whom to ask, nobody to advice what to do, no guide to tell where to go. And in spite of that you have to make decisions. Jesus had temptations too in the desert. He challenged them by trusting in God. Jesus stays with us in the desert of our life.

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