Guest speaker reflection:
The Precious Pearl
This week's talk is a reflection on the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. Our guest speaker is Kerrigan McCarthy, who I have had the privilege of getting to know through a spiritual reading group. In one of our recent meetings, she shared some insights into these two parables that struck me deeply, and so I have asked her to share these insights as well as some reflections on her own journey. I am very grateful that she has agreed to do this.
Kerrigan lives and works in Johannesburg and worships at St Thomas Anglican Church where she is a lay minister. Kerrigan is a mother of two vibrant young university students Gemma and Carys. Kerrigan is a doctor and pathologist and works in the field of communicable disease including over the years, tuberculosis, HIV and lately COVID. Kerrigan is a lifelong learner and has a Masters in Theology from the Catholic University St Augustines. But she has learnt the most, she says, from people-from her kids , her parents, and from friends.
I will now hand over to Kerrigan:
Time: 17 minutes
The following is a guided prayer reflection led by Kerrigan, accompanied by the piece of music, The Pearl:
Some questions for reflection:
What was the ‘treasure in the field’ that drew you into the spiritual life?
How did your life give expression to your faith in Jesus in the earlier part of your faith journey?
What have you understood about your life, about God and about yourself as you have looked backwards and inwards?
Who is the ‘pearl of great price’?
In what way can you now ‘give back your heart to itself’ and ‘Feast on your life’?
Some material for personal reflection and worship:
Below are some of the quotes from the talk and some other material for you to reflect on further:
"It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards." or
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” (Søren Kierkegaard)
‘Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside- dreams, who looks inside – awakens’ (Carl Jung)
Immortal, invisible - Walter Smith (1867)
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish but naught changeth thee.
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render, O help us to see
'tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.
Love after love, by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I invite you to end with listening to the following beautiful hymn that Kerrigan mentions in her talk. The lyrics are included in the video if you want to sing along: