Pearls have been worn by 24 of our First Ladies. Martha Washington started the tradition. Her uplifting dove-shaped pearl pin is a symbol of both peace and hope. Abigail Adams wore pink faux pearl beads. A Dolly Madison portrait shows a single strand of black pearls. More recently, Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama all kept the pearl tradition going, but it was Barbara Bush’s signature strands of faux pearls that seemed prominent every time she was photographed.
Pearl-wearing is alive and well with our first female Vice President, Kamala Harris. Pearls are a wisdom symbol for Harris’ college sorority, AKA, the first Black Greek-letter organization for women. Like Bush’s photos, the photos of Harris feature signature pearls, beginning with her college graduation picture.
Pearl-loving Barbara Bush wrote a book, Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice (That Go a Long Way). In opening words from her book are these precious-as-pearls words for daily life: “I can think of no better lesson to teach you than to try—and oh boy, how hard it is—to always find the good in people and not the bad.”
Her pearls-of-wisdom words are pearls of peace. When we think of others in positive ways, we experience inner peace. However, seeing the best traits or parts of another’s personality is often elusive in our culture-of-criticism today. We could use more pearls of wisdom–the phrase dates to the early 1800’s, although there are references to the preciousness of pearls in the Bible and the Quran. In Buddhism the pearl is a symbol of spiritual wealth.
Bush parleys many word gems in Pearls of Wisdom: “For heaven’s sake enjoy life. Don’t cry over things that were or things that aren’t. Enjoy what you have now to the fullest…people do not want to be around a whiner. We can always find people who are worse off, and we don’t have to look far! Help them….”
The COVID pandemic provides us with both worse-off suffering and surprising opportunities. We have not yet grieved all of the lives lost to an invisible foe. However, this health crisis also is an opportunity for us to pull together, regardless of political party affiliation. Pearls are not worn only in red states or only in blue states. Can pearls unite us?
Pearls of Peace (PoP) quiz:
8. Each person forms certain habits, often represented through symbolism, to live by. What symbols hold meaning for you?
9. What little pieces of advice do you give yourself on a daily basis?