The Three Beryls

Do you know what a beryl is? It’s a precious stone that is found in a variety of forms, the best known being the emerald. Yep, those sparkly green, frightfully expensive gems often encrusted in engagement rings. The emerald is, in fact, not only the best known among the beryl’s…it’s also the most expensive.

Something interesting about the emerald is that ‘flaws’ in the stone, instead of diminishing its value, are considered as adding to its character. In fact, the flaws help to determine the natural from the synthetically produced stones. An emerald without a flaw begs the question: Is it the real deal?

I have known three Beryls in my life, not without their flaws, yet flaws which only served to prove just how valuable and precious they were. The first was my mother, whose life came to an end at the relatively young age of 53. The stand out impression of the short life that she lived was the way she lived for the sake of others. Whether it was for her family,friends, or the complete stranger, she repeatedly sacrificed herself for the sake of the comfort and joy of others. I will never forget how just a few days from her death, her body completely wrecked by the cancer she had borne for five years, she organised a birthday party for the gentleman who earned a living by tending to her garden.

At 80, the other Beryl climbs two flights of steps a few times every week to volunteer at Hope Ithemba Crisis Pregnancy Centre. By the time she gets to the top, she is utterly breathless, yet there is a stunning reflection of loving anticipation beaming from her face as she anticipates the desperate women she will shortly have the opportunity to love and to serve.

The final precious “stone” in the trio of Beryls spent her life unmarried so that she could tend to the needs of her ageing parents. Nearing her mid- 70’s, her grey hair and wrinkled face is so much more the result of age; it’s the result of someone who has sacrificially lived her life in the service of others.

None of these Beryls would consider themselves flawless, and neither would any consider themselves precious. They are simply too selfless. But in every respect, they are the genuine gem, they have lived, and live, the Litmus Life, where the acid test is in the giving…not the getting!

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