The Gift of Sorrow

Our lives have been touched with loss.

Our heart has been filled with sorrow.

It is through this loss that I wanted to share a bittersweet story.

On Saturday our friends were in an avalanche along with five others. One of the seven did not make it. Garrett Smith was not a personal friend  of mine, but my husband has skied in the backcountry with him and we share mutual friends and  know his wife’s family. Even though I did not know Garret personally, I have been touched by this experience. It has given me personal time to reflect on life. It has made me hold my baby just a little tighter and read that extra bed time story to our son. It has made me more patient. It has caused me to say, “I love you” more.

Over the last few days, I have found myself thinking,”Why is it that it takes lost to prioritize and recognize the things most important?” And in my prayers and meditation I was reminded of a story by H.C. Andersen called The Last Pearl. I have included the text at the end of the blog so you, dear reader, can learn for yourself what is in my heart.

Basically, the story goes like this: a baby is born, everyone is happy. All the fairies have brought their gifts: happiness, joy, and so forth. But one fairy has not come and this fairy brings the gift of sorrow.

For it is Sorrow that gives the other gifts meaning.

My prayer to each of yous is that we way all remember that life is precious. That in an instant it can all change or be taken from us. Let us remember to love a little more and focus on the blessing of life.


There was a rich and happy house. All those in it-the owners, and servants, and friends, too-were happy and cheerful, for on this day a son and heir had been born, and mother and child were doing well.

The lamp in the cozy bedroom had been partly covered, and heavy curtains of costly silken material had been drawn tightly together before the windows. The carpet was as thick and soft as moss. Everything here invited rest and sleep; it was a delightful place for repose. And the nurse found it so, too; she slept, and indeed she might, for all was well and blessed here.

The Guardian Spirit of the house stood by the head of the bed; and over the child, at the mother’s breast, it spread itself like a net of shining stars, stars of great richness; each was a pearl of good fortune. Life’s good fairies had brought their gifts to the newborn child; here sparkled health, wealth, happiness, love-everything that man can desire on earth.

“Everything has been brought and bestowed here,” said the Guardian Spirit.

“No,” said a voice near by; it was the voice of the child’s good Angel. “One fairy has not yet brought her gift, but she will bring it; she’ll bring it in time, even if years should pass first. The last pearl is yet lacking.”

“Lacking! Nothing must be lacking here! If that actually is the case, let us go and seek the powerful fairy; let us go to her!”

“She will come! She will come someday! Her pearl must be given to bind the wreath together!”

“Where does she live? Where is her home? Tell me that, and I’ll go and fetch the pearl!”

“You do want to then,” said the child’s good Angel. “I will guide you to her, or to where she is to be sought. She has no permanent place; she visits the palace of the emperor and the cottage of the poorest peasant. She passes no one by without leaving a trace of herself; to all she brings her gift, be it a world or a toy. And this child, also, she will come to. You think that while the time to come will be equally long one way or the other, it will not be equally profitable if you await her; well, then, we will go and fetch the pearl, the last pearl in this wealth of gifts.”

And so, hand in hand, they flew to the place which at the moment was the fairy’s home.

It was a large house, with dark halls and empty rooms, all strangely still. A row of windows stood open, so the fresh air could flow in, and the long white curtains rustled in the breeze.

In the middle of the floor stood an open coffin, and within it lay the corpse of a woman still in the prime of life. The loveliest fresh roses lay upon her, leaving visible only the folded, delicate hands and the noble face, beautiful in death, with the exalted solemnity of one initiated into God’s service.

By the coffin stood her husband and children, a whole flock of them, the smallest of whom was held in his father’s arm. They had come to bid a last farewell, and the husband kissed her hand, that which, now like a withered leaf, had once clasped theirs with strength and love. Bitter tears of sorrow fell in heavy drops upon the floor, but not a word was spoken. Silence expressed a world of grief. And silent and sobbing, they left the room.

A lighted candle stood there, the flame struggling against the wind as it shot up its long red tongue. Strangers entered the room, closed the lid of the coffin, and hammered in the nails. The hammer strokes clanged sharply through the halls and rooms of the house, resounding in the hearts that bled there.

“Where do you take me?” inquired the Guardian Spirit. “Here could live no fairy whose pearl belong among life’s best gifts.”

“She dwells in this very place, now at this holy hour,” said the Angel, pointing to a corner.

And there, where the mother had sat in life amid flowers and pictures, and been like the good fairy of the house, where she had affectionately greeted husband, children, and friends, and, like rays of sunshine, had spread happiness, love, and harmony, and been the very heart of everything, there now sat a strange woman clad in long, heavy robes. It was Sorrow, and she now ruled here in the mother’s place. A hot tear rolled down her cheek, into her lap, where it became a pearl, sparkling with all the hues of the rainbow, and as the Angel caught it up it shone with the sevenfold luster of a star.

“The Pearl of Sorrow, the last pearl, which must never be lacking! Through it the light and splendor of all other gifts are enhanced. Behold in it a reflection of the rainbow, which unites earth with heaven itself! In the place of each or our beloved ones taken from us by death, we gain one friend more to look forward to being with in heaven. In the night we look up beyond the stars, toward the end of all things. Reflect, then, upon the Pearl of Sorrow, for within it lie the wings of Psyche, which carry us away from here.”

Related Posts with Thumbnails

2 thoughts on “The Gift of Sorrow

  1. It is bittersweet that it usually takes a tragedy for people to regroup, reorganize, reprioritize and focus on what matters most. It was so sad to hear of the avalanche, and I’ve heard other people say that they have known others who were affected.

    Thank you for sharing your blessings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap