Memories and Pearls

Here is my first post, a short story I wrote a few months ago about life, the ocean, memories, and pearls.

She stood in the sand. She didn’t know why, but she just stood there, unmoving. Gently, the cool tide washed over her bare feet. The wind blew back her hair, the sun embraced her with warmth. Over and over, the sea rushed forward and back, forward and back, salt and sand caught up in its current. Her feet oozed in the wet sand, sinking further and further as the ocean fell into a tossing rhythm over her ankles, and then, gradually, over her knees. She stood motionless, lost in some enchantment.

The hurt, the pain, the emotions, all tumbled inside of her like the constant waves in the distance; feelings she had, and yet she couldn’t remember what they were for. She wished only to stay there—as tears slipped down her cheeks—to stay in the enchantment and watch the never-ending waves.

But as soon as she remembered, it was too hard to forget, and she knew even the ocean couldn’t wash away her memories. This realization sent darkness, fear, and the chill of the sea sweeping over her in a panic. Hurriedly, she slipped her feet out of the mud that had befriended her and ran onto the dry shore, shivering from the cold, wet sea. She ran alongside the beach, faster and faster, passing the cawing seagulls and laughing people. She ran up a rocky precipice, where at the top she could flee from the shore, and drive home in her car she had parked there. Stumbling her way to the top, she gasped for breath and looked down at the scenery. She was at the top of the world it seemed. Wouldn’t everything be alright now?

“Karen.”

She turned. It was only someone whose face reminded her of what once was. She needed to forget.

“You just need to forget.”

She looked at him, the man, and wondered what had become of him. “I know. But you know I can’t, even if I tried.”

“I know. At least live like you’ve forgotten. You might as well—the past can never change, but the future can.”

She gazed at the sea, contemplating his words. “Why can’t life be like the waves—constant and unchanging?”

His mouth quivered into a smile. “Everything changes, Karen. Even the ocean. There’s tsunamis, hurricanes, floods…”

“I know, but just look. Look how constant the waves are.”

He followed her gaze, watching the rolling waves build up and crash down, over and over. After a while he spoke once more. “No one likes change, but after it happens, they can adjust to the new way of living, and it will become their ordinary life again.”

The tears came rolling down faster than she had expected, her throat throbbing and her heart aching. Before she realized it, her feelings escaped her, and she sobbed hard into his shoulder, his arm around her, rocking her back and forth.

She spoke between sobs, “I can never have an ordinary life without Clark.”

He gave a hard swallow. Moments passed, and then he said, “We really need to go, Karen. The beach can’t comfort you, Clark can’t, and neither can I.”

She nodded and gathered herself up, regretting allowing her feelings to escape and wiping away forlorn tears. “I can never be comforted until I forget.”

“Your husband will always be dead,” he said softly, “but God will always be with you even while you mourn. Go to Him for comfort. He made the tide ebb and flow, he can calm the seas. He can calm the seas in your life.”

“Then why does he make tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods? Why did he let my husband die?!” This time she didn’t have regrets, she didn’t regret letting her feelings escape her.

His thoughtful eyes rested on her. Words were never hard to get out of him, he never pried them out of himself. They always came out smoothly, flowing with ease like the tide. “You know, these disasters make us finer, more perfect like the sand. The more the waves toss and turn, the more pieces the sand is dissolved in.” He watched the tide rush onto the sand, and Karen’s eyes followed.

He bent down on the rocky cliff and picked up a pebble, laying it in her palm. “Before when you were a child, you were happy with the simplicity of life, you were a pebble on the shore. But then the ocean brought you into the storms of this life, until you were broken into millions of pieces; you were softened. You need only now to go to God, and you will be safe despite the storms of this life, resting in the joy, peace, and hope that comes from his Son, Jesus. And while the storm is raging on around you—and inside you—you will be transformed, not destroyed, by the hardships you face. With God, you will be refined through your hardships, and you will be made into a better and more beautiful pebble, a pearl.”

His words left her speechless, as she connected the analogy to her life. The spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, swept over her, and she was set free like a seagull soaring over the horizon. Her heart fluttered with a joy she had never experienced before, or perhaps had forgotten.

She looked at the man, her friend, and spoke, her voice stronger than before. “Thank you, thank you for reminding me. I should never have forgotten the love of Jesus, just because my husband passed away. Clark was the one who taught me about Him, he is surely experiencing more joy in Heaven than all of the joy ever felt on earth. That is something I should never forget.”

He beamed, and reached out his hand. “I thought you wanted to forget.”

She took it, willingly, and they walked on the rocks down to the shore, where the sun was beginning to set above the sea.

As they watched the waves and the sunset, she spoke. “Memories are important, they shape us—who we are—and mold us into who we’ll become in the future. Without them, it would seem like there never was a tsunami, and that the tide has always come the same—and always will come the same. And without them, it would seem that we ourselves have always been the same, and always will be the same. But with memories, there’s a chance for a change, a chance for us to change into a better version of ourselves.”

He smiled at the girl who had always intrigued him with her words. “Now you’re starting to sound like me.”

She smiled back.

He felt inside his pocket and pulled out a round, white pearl that shone like the moon. “Here,” he said, as he placed it in her hand.

She fondled it in her palm, rolling the polished pebble over and over, in awe of its beauty.

“You can keep it,” he whispered. “As a reminder.”

She wasn’t sure where he had gotten this rare treasure, or even why he was giving it to her; all she knew was that the pearl gave her hope for a brighter future, and a chance to live again. It gave her a chance to be transformed into a beautiful pearl in the inner core of her, the inner core of her heart.

And no matter how much the waves would toss and turn in the storm of her life, she would stand firm in the One who died for her and loved her beyond telling. Even if it meant living her life with boldness and courage, she would stand secure in the sand as the tide washed over her feet, as the waves roared and billowed. She would never again fear the storm that raged on around her, as well as inside her—and she would never again forget the wonder of the One who held her safe in His arms, and continued to perfect her into a flawless pearl.

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