Every May I find myself reflecting on my journey of missionary/ministry work, which started in May 2015. This poem captures some of the adventure and human emotions that follow especially from a call to ministry work, but also from the universal call to pursue the Christian life in general, leaving one's old life behind.
The Pearl of Great Price
by Emma Savageau
There’s a Pearl of Great Price
Such they leave it all to find.
Both kith and kin, and hearth and home
They will to leave behind.
No ocean is too vast
Nor open plain too wide
To daunt the fearless traveler
Who holds that hope inside.
For the Pearl of Great Price
Is their lifetime’s highest aim.
No limits to their sacrifice
For the Pearl is worth the pain.
A heart alight, exulting joy;
Their passion for the chase
Leads on to share the greatest Prize
With the whole human race.
And some may even find the Pearl.
Or does It come to them?
Yet few there are who know the way
To bring It home again.
See, questing for the Pearl
A’times itself becomes the prize
And travelers let slip their grasp
On the Thing they strove to find.
In placing quest before the Pearl,
They lose the joy of both.
And that hopeful willing fire
Loses heat and loses hope.
The Pearl’s still the greatest prize,
Still their lifetime’s highest aim.
But once their quest has taken pause
How do they start again?
It’s then, upon a distant soil
The traveler recalls
The kith and kin, and hearth and home
Left for a higher Call.
And if they did receive the Gift
Of that most blessed Pearl,
This traveler is less alike
To their forsaken world.
The things they left behind
No longer slake their thirst.
But such a fate it seems to some
Is an unasked-for curse.
In hidden shame the traveler
Might even rue their choice
To leave a-questing for the Pearl,
But they’ll never give that voice.
They know the Pearl is the Prize.
They long to understand
When and why the fire cooled,
Why there’s scarce joy in What’s at hand.
They know of those whose quest
Achieved the Pearl of Great Price,
And succeeded after in the task
Of keeping It in sight.
These sainted champions recline
In peace when quest is done.
They tend the fire in the hearth
And prize the Pearl won.
Perhaps that’s where the secret lies:
That they prepared a place
Where they could full receive the Pearl,
Prize of the human race.
It was not in questing or achieving
That their fulfillment came.
But in the captivating beauty
Of the Pearl, despite the pain.
For when the pain is for the quest
The cost becomes too grim
The sacrifices are too steep
And joy and hope grow dim.
But when the quest is ordered right
As only answer to the Call,
As but the means of saying “yes”
There’s much less far to fall
For the traveler does not rely
On the quest to compensate
For the sacrifices made
And the bread of tears they ate.
Instead, the Pearl is the prize.
The quest is but the way
To find which place the Pearl is found
And there in peace to stay.
The Pearl does not answer
To the whims of questing men.
It’s not uprooted, not removed
To a place that pleases them.
Those travelers who did (or seemed)
To gain the victory
Still left their kith and kin, but found
The Pearl made them free.
The Pearl is the greatest prize,
In It is found our hope.
Either questing or in contemplation
It is the end of both.
Press on then, weary traveler.
Do not resent your quest,
For the Pearl costs a mighty price
But it’s worth all the rest.