Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” has been following me around the past few days like a small child asking to be picked up and held for a while. Here are some of my thoughts …

There are the big decisions we make with our life — becoming a nun, marrying the love of your life, going to college, raising a child — these decisions dramatically change our lives, help us grow into who we are. Then, there are the (seemingly) not-so-big decisions, the little grains of sand that slowly, imperceptibly change our lives. Days, months, years later we look and Behold! — a pearl.

What are these things, these grains of sand that transform seemingly miraculously? Maybe it’s the way my Aunt Elena used to take me for hikes when I was younger and explain to me each little creature we met — a tree, a bug, a mound of dirt, a fawn tucked in the forest shadows. That little grain of sand has been transformed over the years of my life and become an essential part of who I am and how I see the world.

Maybe all life decisions — even those big, dramatic ones — originate from a tiny grain of sand tucked away in the oyster shell of our heart. Maybe we know it’s there but pay it little attention. Maybe we have no idea it’s there until something outside of ourselves bumps into it — the wise word of a friend, a painful break-up, surprising generosity, soul-searching depression. Who knows? Somehow — even in spite of ourselves — that innocuous bit of sand becomes a pearl, a pearl of such great value that you’d give up everything for it.

"Or again, the kindom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When one pearl of great value was found, the merchant went back and sold everything else and bought it." (Matthew 13:45-46)