Pearls have been prized for their beauty and rarity for more than four thousand years. Pearls are formed within oysters or mollusks when a foreign substance (like a grain of sand) invades the shell of the mollusk and enters the soft mantle tissue. In response to the irritation, the mantle’s epithelial cells form a sac which secretes a crystalline substance which builds up in layers around the irritant, forming a beautiful pearl.
A man named Pearl, Pearl Fryar, the son of a southern sharecropper, was a factory worker making aluminum cans in Bishopville, South Carolina when he set out to buy his first home. He bought a home for his family on the outskirts of Bishopville in a “Black” area. And soon thereafter Pearl set his sights on winning the local Garden Club’s prestigious Yard of the Month award; even though he was faced with those who had judged him by the color of his skin and had assumed he “wouldn’t keep up his yard.” According to Pearl, “for one time in my life, ignorance paid off.”
Pearl worked all day in the factory and when he returned home in the evenings he worked in his yard. According to those who know him, he has an uncanny energy, a respect for others, and an incredible faith in God. He has inspired and enhanced his entire community – and today thousands of people from all around the world visit his garden every year. I would like to visit his garden.
I saw an incredible film about this man and his garden this weekend: A Man Named Pearl. It is a story about a gardener; but living up to his name, this is not the story of an ordinary gardener. This is the story of a genuine pearl. This is the story of a man who was not held back by other’s low expectations. This is the story of a man with a passion, an energy, and an open heart that allows him to create something about which others can only marvel. This film is an unexpected delight, and an inspiration to watch.