Four months ago I lost something very precious to me…my pearls.

Now, I’m not really one for jewelry…

I own very little, in fact.  I have one necklace, one pair of earrings, a wedding ring, a ring my mother gave me and a watch.  I’m not counting my scapular and miraculous medal, as they’re sacramentals…

Each of the aforementioned pieces are of extreme sentimental value, I’m sure I don’t need to explain the wedding ring (though it’s not my original…that’s another story, in itself!).  The watch is a $6.00 waterproof beauty that never, ever leaves my wrist (I live and die by the clock!)

But the pearls…ah, the pearls.  They meant something far beyond their obvious beauty and value.

From the time I was a very young girl, I’d always wanted a strand.  Their creamy-white perfection appealed to me in ways that the cold, hard glint of diamonds never could.  For many years I wore a fake strand, content to see them nestled against a bright red wool sweater, or lying upon crisp linen…

Why pearls?  As I explained to my husband years ago, they mean something…pearls stand for purity, perfection, wisdom, innocence and fidelity.  Pearl earrings were often given as a gift from husband to wife, to symbolize his trust in her fidelity.  The pearl is formed under such adverse conditions…encased within a living creature, formed layer by layer, beneath the muck and mire, hidden from sight.  The oyster, gnarled and imperfect, gives birth to that which is perfection…the pearl.  And like a snowflake, no two pearls are alike…

On my 40th birthday, my husband and children presented me with a strand of pearls.  Need I say how much that gift meant?  Precious, beyond words…two years later, a set of dangling pearl earrings completed the set.  My husband searched long and hard to find just the perfect pair, the pair that would truly symbolize his trust, his love and my fidelity as a wife of more than a quarter century.

I wore the necklace occasionally throughout the week, reserving the earrings for the Sabbath, as I feared I might lose them.  The earrings, remained…but the necklace.  The necklace…vanished.

For four long months, we’d searched for them.  I’d feared they’d fallen from my neck, perhaps slipped down the drain…we searched every room.

This Sunday, I donned my favorite yellow linen dress and keenly felt their absence.  I put the earrings on, wearing them alone for the first time since the necklace disappeared.  While sitting in Mass, one of the earrings slipped off my ear.  I quickly caught it.  The back was missing.  In panic, I removed both of them, placed them in the zipper compartment of my purse and sighed.

My husband must have noticed my distress.  On the ride home from Church, he begged the children to help find mom’s pearls.  They tried…no pearls.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day deep-cleaning my bedroom.  Purging files, putting away the velvet and wool, exchanging it for linen and cotton.  Boxing, bagging, vacuuming.  And searching.

No pearls.

Arthur was present throughout much of the cleaning process.  He searched the master bath…emptying the cabinets and drawers but found nothing.

“I’m sorry, mom.  I’ve looked everywhere.  What about your old purse?”

“Yes…I’ve looked there.  In suitcases, backpacks.  See the computer cabinet?  I just checked there…”

“What about this file box?  How about there?”  He moved forward to look…

“Arthur…the file box doesn’t have room for anything other than magazines and papers…how could it be in there…”

He stepped back.  I bowed my head for just a few seconds, once again beseeching St. Anthony.  This time I asked him to let Arthur find that necklace.

In a split second, Arthur pushed past me, pulled the file box forward (I’m weeping as I type this!) and reaching into the small space in front of the magazines, extracted my necklace!

My pearls!

Hugs, kisses and tears of joy.  I’m not really sure who was happier…Arthur was giddy for the rest of the evening.  Remember that story about the lady who swept her house looking for the lost coin?  And the jubilation that ensued?

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

– Luke 15:8-10

Did I happen to mention that I went to Confession, this past Sunday? I hadn’t been in quite sometime.  Somehow, in the midst of all the mania of the past few weeks, weeks filled with anger and stress, I never once considered seeking the Divine Physician for this healing Sacrament.  I know…astounding, isn’t it?  I teach it, I preach, I’ve marched my children in and somehow…somehow I haven’t been going.  I can’t account for it!  Until I stepped into the confessional and said these words “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been over two months since my last confession…” It’s quite possible, it had been longer…perhaps more like four months…

In the midst of rejoicing, I can’t help but think our Lord had a much larger message for me in this little “miracle of the necklace…”

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

My joy, while great, is nothing compared to His merciful love, and the joy of the angels as they exult over this repentant sinner…

How beautifully, how perfectly our Good God instructs His children…I thank Him that this lesson has not missed its mark…like a well-aimed arrow, it is fixed firmly in my heart!