We’ve all heard “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Dick Ryan uses a different image: “Suffering can be like a grain of sand in an oyster; it can create a magnificent pearl.”

I can’t hear the word “pearl” without thinking of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Even teaching the novel for the twelfth time, I am continually fascinated by the many layers of the word “pearl” with all its lovely and ugly connotations.

     The pandemic has caused a tsunami of suffering. Yet it is my hope that the pandemic can create a magnificent pearl. With prayer and good will our global village can learn that our present modes of living are not sustainable. We need to reverse global warming. We need to flatten the curve not only of COVID19 but of economic inequality. The extra care given to the elderly may lessen the ageism that creeps into our culture. The news has heightened the plight of the homeless, making us more aware of all their needs, starting with a roof over their heads.

     It is my hope that goodness, systemic change, care for our planet and one another will be more contagious than the virus. How terrible it would be if we let our present suffering not be transformed into pearls.