A Teaching Story from Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut (A highly recommended book -- a perfect gift from a friend who takes such a story as the following to heart.)
Here's a story by Junayd titled "The Pearl."
"Shibli sought out Junayd as a teacher and said to him, 'Many people have informed me that you are a supreme expert on the pearls of awakening and divine wisdom. Either give me one of these pearls or sell one to me.'
"Junayd smiled. 'If I sell you one, you won't be able to pay the price; if I give you one, coming by it so easily will drive you to undervalue it. Do like me; dive headfirst into the Sea. If you wait patiently, you will obtain your Pearl.' "
To Practice: Dive deeper into your spiritual practice and watch for a Pearl.
To add more layers to the metaphor above, sometimes waiting for the gift of the Pearl may take time no matter how prepared we may be. So, what about rejoicing with the little "gifts" along the way -- which are also often greater than we may notice at the time. In fact these may be JUST what we or a loved one may need most.
See Steinbeck's The Pearl. Here's the excerpt:
The baby, having been cured by the poultice of seaweed, the gift of the sea, does not need the doctor, but Juana does not fully appreciate the power of the sea, and hopes for a pearl so that they can pay the doctor to treat him. To satisfy their misguided understanding of what is best for their child and for their family, Kino violently cuts into the flesh of the oyster, making its "lip-like flesh...(writhe) and...subside)", and takes the pearl, in his ignorance and greed destroying the natural order between the land and the sea (Chapter 2).