I actually had a very good reason to be MIA for so long~ my husband and I went to Florida to celebrate our 20th anniversary. (When our kids inquired where we were going, we told them, “To the Land of No Teenagers.” We missed them, of course, but they had a great time with their “young adult sitter” (they have requested that we not refer to her as a “baby” sitter. Ever. Again.)
It was a wonderful, relaxing week…we read good books, ate decadent food and slept in every day. We also enjoyed long walks on the beach.
What is it about the beach that is so magical? Perhaps it’s the sound of the waves, or the seemingly endless horizon. Maybe it’s the abundance of birds, or the warmth of the sand, or the salty smell…walking on the beach just puts me in awe of God. Who else could invent a heron, with its long neck, specially designed for slurping up fish? Who else but God could compose a sound that is as hypnotic and comforting as the waves lapping on shore? Only God could mix and paint so many hues of blue, green, pink, coral and purple, making each sunset absolutely unique. Only God.
I noodling about His creativity as we hunted for shells on our walks. I’m rather like a little kid when it comes to shell seeking. Even though we have WAY too many shells already, I still find the need to stuff my pockets every time I’m on the beach. How can I refrain? Each shell is so different and pretty and precious.
Recently, this particular beach underwent a restoration project to prevent erosion. Sand from miles out in the Gulf was pumped to shore. This made searching for shells great fun, as there are so many new ones to collect! Tom and I were particularly interested in the conch shells, which we found in abundance. It was fun to press them to our ears so we could “hear the sea.” Though we plucked many “whole” and “perfect” shells, we loved finding the worn and broken ones just as much…they were just too good to pass by. Even if a shell was broken and worn, when we turned it over, we could see the spiralled curves and twists that form the “echo chambers” inside, tinted with shiny pastels. The chipped, scratched, common shell belied the beauty and complexity we found beneath.
This reminded me of the kids we seek to serve at Key Ministry.
This reminded me of myself, too.
We all have a common shell…and sometimes, we’re not too pretty when it comes to our words and actions. Whether we have ADHD, anxiety, a head injury…or whether we’ve just had a bad day or a difficult experience, our “scratches” and ugliness are what people might see first. But there’s so much more to us…all of those lovely curves that echo to make the sound of our souls. All of those lovely, soft colors.
I hope that I’ll remember this as I volunteer, teach, and parent…sometimes it takes a little digging in the sand to find the good stuff. I hope I’ll also remember that sometimes the grit and tidal waves in my life can serve to smooth me out a bit, and make me better.
Here’s hoping you’ll find some beauty in every broken shell.