Every morning was the same for the young girl
and her father. Very early they’d head down to the Oyster
Bay in search of perfect pearls. The girl loved her father and playfully
skipped down the path to begin their day’s work. As they walked,
the father taught her about pearls and their care.
“Pearls are formed when layers
of nacre surround and build around an irritant inside an oyster
shell,” said the father. “The more layers one has, the
larger and more valuable the pearl. Shape and color also add to
a pearl’s value.”
Pearls selected to become part of a strand
were of greater value than a pearl by itself, and the father could
take a pearl—no matter how small or insignificant—and
turn it into a striking piece, by simply by placing it on a strand.
The father was a master of his craft and enjoyed working with pearls
more than any other gem. Their unique ability to reflect and absorb
light made them very fragile and soft.
The girl loved to learn from her father, and
she treasured these times alone with him. Together they had found
many beautiful and perfect pearls. “Handle them carefully,”
he’d say, “because their surface is soft and can easily
be scratched or chipped.” The girl knew pearls required special
care, so she kept her own in a velvet-lined box and hid them in
a special place.
One of a Kind
As the girl grew older, she gathered more and
more pearls. They were different shapes, sizes, and colors. One
morning the father handed the girl a very special pearl. Never had
she seen such a pearl. It was so large; the light seemed to dance
all around and inside it. Its surface was perfectly round without
a scratch or chip. She couldn’t speak when she saw the incredible
gift her father had given her.
“Only one thing could make this
pearl more valuable,” the father said, “and that would
be for it to be part of a strand. Let’s take the pearls you
have and form a necklace with the large pearl in the middle and
the smaller ones working their way to the clasp at the top.”
So, everyday they worked to create this priceless
piece. It would be the father’s greatest work, created out
of love for his daughter.
Meant to be Given
Within a few years the necklace was complete,
and the little girl was now a young woman. The strand of pearls
was beautiful, a true reflection of the time the girl and her father
had spent working on it. Never had there been a lovelier strand.
Yet the young woman seemed anxious as though something was missing.
One day she spoke to her father and said a bit shyly, “I have
this deep desire to give this strand away. It’s the most precious
thing I have, and I can think of no greater gift to give but this
“It’s meant to be given away,”
replied the father. “But I must caution you about how you
do this. The strand is to be a gift given bit by bit, yet in its
entirety, to one man. When you find the right man, give him one
or two of the smaller pearls near the clasp, then watch how he handles
them. If he handles them gently and respectfully, give him a few
more, and as your relationship and commitment increase, give him
more and more of the strand. The largest pearl, my gift to you,
is not to be given away until the day you become his wife. It’s
then that he will have the honorable gift of the full strand. I
love you, my daughter, and I don’t want your pearls to be
hurt. But if anything should happen to your pearls, come to me right
away, and I’ll restore them. I’ll always be here for
And so the young woman left. She went to a
town not far away and found a man for her pearls. He was everything
she’d hoped for and more, so she loosened two pearls near
the clasp and gave them to him. He glanced at them and then tossed
them into his pocket, never giving them a second look.
The young woman thought he must not have seen
them for what they were so she gave him a few more. His rough hands
scratched them, and he even dropped one. She picked up the chipped
pearl, and a small tear fell down her cheek. She slipped it into
her pocket hoping another man could somehow make things right.
It wasn’t long before she found another
man. She gave him a few of her precious pearls, and although he
played with them a bit, tossing them around, she was sure this man
wouldn’t hurt them. But when she asked him to handle her pearls
carefully, he laughed, saying, “Your pearls aren’t worth
what you think they are.” With that he walked away, stepping
on the pearls carelessly. She stooped to pick them up and noticed
that some had been lost. Her strand was in shambles and only the
large pearl and a few others remained intact.
By this time her spirit was broken, and she
desperately searched for someone to care for her pearls. Her heart
longed to hear words of hope and love, and it wasn’t long
before she found herself giving what few pearls she had left to
men she knew didn’t love her.
It was to one of these men she gave the last
pear, her father’s precious gift to her. She was hopeful this
would buy her the love she so desperately wanted. She closed her
eyes as she entrusted the pearl to him, but the next morning she
found herself alone. He was gone, and the pearl lay next to her
on the bed. She couldn’t hold back the tears. Deep scratches
and chips marred it’s beauty, and it no longer absorbed or
reflected the light with any grace. She was abandoned with a few
broken and chipped pearls, nothing of value, and her sense of shame
and disgrace was overwhelming. She knew her only hope was to go
back to her father, but so many questions ran through her mind.
Will he accept me or even want to see me if
he knows what I’ve done? Is he still there for me? Does he
still love me? Could he ever restore me? She took the long walk
home. Each step was fearfully taken, and yet she felt compelled
The house stood at the end of the ocean. She
walked along the familiar path and up the three steps to the door.
She’d arrived home, but guilt kept her from knocking. She
stood there crying, and soon the door opened. Her father took her
in his arms and held her while he whispered, “It’s going
to be all right. You’re back home, and I’ll take care
The young woman pulled away and said, “You
don’t know what I’ve done. All the pearls are lost or
ruined, and I’m not worthy of your love. “ She looked
into her father’s eyes and saw that she hadn’t changed.
He still loved her. “Will you show me the pearls?” he
Slowly, she took them from her pocket. Each
chipped, scratched and broken pearl was laid before him. One by
one they revealed her pain and exposed her sin. Yet her father showed
no look of alarm, only compassion. Seeing this, she gave him all
she had, including the last and largest pearl. The father’s
eyes welled with tears.
“I can restore these,” he
said. “They’ll be smaller, and you have to live with
the reminder that they aren’t as they originally were. But
even the lost ones can be replaced, Spend some time with me, and
I’ll make your strand beautiful again.”
She watched him pull a small knife from a drawer
in the kitchen. He sat down and began to peel layers of nacre off
the marred pearls. It was hard to see them shrink to a smaller size,
but soon the pearls’ luster reappeared, and the light was
once again absorbed and reflected on their surface. The daughter
wept with joy as the father worked on every pearl. Even the largest
pearl was restored. Its beauty had returned.
The young woman spent a lot of time with the
father, gathering pearls to replace the lost ones, creating a new
strand. These were precious months of discovery. As the strand began
to take shape, her confidence returned. She held this strand more
precious than the first, because in its restoration, she saw the
depth of her father’s love.
One day, she met a wonderful man. She asked
her father what she should do, and relying on her father’s
wisdom she gave the man two of the smallest pearls near the clasp.
He, too, had spent much time with his father and knew how to respectfully
handle and care for the pearls, so this time none were lost or broken.
Pearl by pearl, the man received the gift of the young woman’s
strand. And then one very special day, in a white dress, she gave
the man the last of her precious pearls.
And the father was pleased.