The Tale of the Odd Bead

Chris (Christine Michaels) was traveling in Kenya and, as usual, was shopping. In the Masai Mara, there are no malls. Instead, shopping is done predominantly in the open marketplaces. Of course, being a typical female, she immediately gravitated to the jewelry stalls.

The Masai are expert craftsmen at creating exquisite beaded jewelry. One particular bracelet caught Chris’ attention and, without hesitation (the price being right), she purchased it and slipped it on her wrist. Back at the tent that evening, while dressing for dinner, Chris noticed an imperfection in her bracelet, one odd colored red bead stood out among all orange ones. The evening was ruined. Chris was unable to rest until she could exchange the bracelet for a new one.

The very next morning, even before breakfast, she took a taxi back to the market. Locating the same vendor, Chris requested replacement for the defective bracelet.

The Masai laughed and shared the meaning of the odd bead with her. The Masai are humble people. They believe we must always be mindful of our humanness, and so they intentionally add an odd colored bead to all of their adornments. This reminds them that being human means being imperfect and our beauty and our uniqueness reside in our imperfections.

–Christine Michaels and Lonne Sterling