Speak Lord: the pearl of great price.

The Good Shepherd by Duncan Grant

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

Matthew 13:44-52

  • What do you most desire?
  • How does that desire shape your decisions and actions?
  • So often in life we seem to end up going with the flow. When did you last go against the flow, and why?

George Herbert was a man who was well-fitted for life of all sorts. But he chose the life of faith. In his poem, The Pearl, that follows, he reflects on his choice.

The Pearl

MATTHEW xiii

I know the ways of learning; both the head
And pipes that feed the press, and make it run;
What reason hath from nature borrowed,
Or of itself, like a good huswife, spun
In laws and policy; what the stars conspire,
What willing nature speaks, what forc’d by fire;
Both th’old discoveries and the new-found seas,
The stock and surplus, cause and history;
All these stand open, or I have the keys:
         Yet I love thee.
I know the ways of honour; what maintains
The quick returns of courtesy and wit;
In vies of favours whether party gains
When glory swells the heart and moldeth it
To all expressions both of hand and eye,
Which on the world a true-love-knot may tie,
And bear the bundle wheresoe’er it goes;
How many drams of spirit there must be
To sell my life unto my friends or foes:
         Yet I love thee.
I know the ways of pleasure; the sweet strains
The lullings and the relishes of it;
The propositions of hot blood and brains;
What mirth and music mean; what love and wit
Have done these twenty hundred years and more;
I know the projects of unbridled store;
My stuff is flesh, not brass; my senses live,
And grumble oft that they have more in me
Than he that curbs them, being but one to five:
         Yet I love thee.
I know all these and have them in my hand;
Therefore not seeled but with open eyes
I fly to thee, and fully understand
Both the main sale and the commodities;
And at what rate and price I have thy love,
With all the circumstances that may move.
Yet through the labyrinths, not my grovelling wit,
But thy silk twist let down from heav’n to me
Did both conduct and teach me how by it
         To climb to thee.
Image is of the Good Shepherd, by Duncan Grant. It is a detail from frescoes he painted for a side chapel in Lincoln Cathedral.
Photograph (c) Allen Morris,  2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.