The Queen of England said a surprising thing recently. She was being interviewed for a BBC documentary as she watched film footage of her 1953 Coronation.
Out came the crown jewels, and as the Queen held two pearls in her hand, that were said to have belonged to the doomed Mary Queen of Scotts, she commented rather wistfully that the pearls were ‘not very happy.’
‘They’ve just been hanging out here for years,’ she continued. ‘It’s rather sad . . . the trouble is that pearls are sort of live things and they need warming.’
Three decades ago I met The Queen on the edge of a swamp and shook her hand. I must say this did not lead me to think of the Queen as a warm person. But she knows her pearls. After all, she wears a triple string nearly every day. And she knows that pearls respond to being warmed.
What has all this got to do with the current season?
The serene days of autumn are an opportune time to gather ‘pearls’, in the form of memorable moments.(And even if you are in spring right now, you may discover some bright pearls of newness).
I’m thinking of the day when I walked across rain-darkened dunes towards my favourite lake two weeks ago. Suddenly, I was enchanted by the transformation of the hill. It was as if a silken cloth of gold had been flung across the scene.
Then there was the day I walked the labyrinth. Each year, in the week before Easter, the good people of St Matthew-in-the-City lays out the mediaeval labyrinth in river stones, illumined with tiny candles.
Each year I walk it, holding a question in my heart.
This year, a direct answer didn’t arrive, but my body melted into acceptance of the rhythm of the quest, with its twists and turns, rapid progress followed by a blocked pathway, long meandering away from the goal, and finally the stillness of the centre.
Another was gazing into rock pools at the beach with my granddaughter, on a warm day at Easter. We lost ourselves in that magical world of unknown treasures, where a tiny fish or crab might flit or slide from under one rock to another, and where the troubles of life were left behind.
Why collect pearls?
These mellow moments are like living pearls, collected and strung together like stored energy from another time. You will need these pearls during the bleak months of winter, or if you run into hard times. Just holding them, metaphorically, can bring comfort.
Of course you may forget
Yes, as I did when disaster struck after I returned to Auckland from four peaceful days in Central Otago with my ritual group.
A fierce storm had hit Auckland, knocking out the power on the coldest day of the year. The apartment block next to mine, and right in my face, had its roof torn off and dangling at an alarming angle. It was shocking. I fled to family to be cared for and shivered through the night on a camp stretcher.
At first I forgot the pearls I’d gathered. I thought only of survival. Then I remembered the rich, nourishing days that I’d just spent. I remembered how my ritual group had made mandalas to express our connection with the land of Central Otago.
The next morning I climbed my favourite volcano and made a new mandala on the ground, from broken sticks and twigs that I’d picked up, together with fallen leaves and berries. Out of chaos appeared something new, just as the oyster turns grit or an irritant into a pearl.
From this experience I learned some important principles:
When in chaos, find stability and seek images of grounding.
When in chaos, draw strength from the good times when you were safe and contented.
These principles are still guiding me, as more challenges arise at home.
May you all gather pearls from the serene times, keep them warm through remembrance and holding, then wear them as a string of positive reminders. Should life turn harsh, hold your pearls and keep them warm.
If you’d like to be guided through a process of storing your blessings, check out my Autumn Attunement home ritual here.
Be safe. Be well.
* Acknowledgement to Diana Wichtel for her description of ‘The Coronation’ movie.
This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.