An oyster spends almost its entire life stuck in a single spot. It opens its shell only to filter food from the water.
This is its only movement except during the first three weeks of life when newly hatched oysters are tiny and can swim freely in the water. Then, in two to three weeks, the oyster larvae grow an appendage called the foot that attaches itself to a permanent home where they live out their lives.
Oysters are considered a gourmet delicacy for some. However, their ability to produce an exquisite gem is probably their most extraordinary claim to fame. A tiny piece of sand slips into the open shell. As the oyster protects itself from the irritation, a precious treasure is produced.
The oyster provides an interesting metaphor for us to consider when it comes to aging.
In his book “Falling Upward, Spirituality for the Second Half of Life,” Father Richard Rohr reminds us that the first half of life is about building our outer shell, our container. The second half — and the best part of life — is discovering the treasure that is inside.
Our authentic self, our spirit, is hidden within. Interestingly, a great deal of the personal growth we experience, if we’re willing, is caused by various irritants. The challenges that age brings are opportunities for growth.
As Father Rohr says, “Aging is enlightenment at gunpoint!”
Whether dealing with health issues, retirement, downsizing or a myriad of other challenges, we have to deal with frustration and irritation. Ultimately we have to make peace with dying because no one is escaping it.
We have to grapple with spending our time in meaningful and purposeful ways, knowing that we are much closer to the end than the beginning. The last chapters of life can be the best if we embrace this time and create that pearl.
Interestingly it takes only six months to form a pearl, and the longer it grows, the larger and more beautiful it becomes. So we have no excuse that we don’t have enough time. The treasure is inside us, and there is no other place to discover the jewel but by looking inward.
Jesus told a parable about the merchant who found the pearl of great price and sold everything to get it. We’re not finished until we look inside ourselves and discover the treasure that is within.
Find Connie’s book, “Daily Cures: Wisdom for Healthy Aging,” at www.justnowoldenough.com.