Shells are like people. I came up with that as I was strolling the beach this week. I took the kids to a great place, Forest Dunes in Myrtle Beach, and it was really rejuvinating and full of fun. Sissy was even willing to let me walk on the beach by myself while she stayed in the room with a sleeping little man. There weren't tons of people around, just a few joggers and some strollers like me.
I love to look for treasures on the beach. The illusive sand doller, unbroken shells, colorful sea glass, a prized shark tooth. I usually end up with shells in my bucket and little else. It's the hunt, honestly, that keeps my attention.
As I walked, I could see shells scattered everywhere on the beach. Some were on top of the sand, others were buried slightly. I surveyed my walking area and I realized there were many, many more broken, chipped, and crushed shells than there were perfect ones. Some had been stepped on, some had been worn down by the ocean, others simply mere fragments of what they once were. I found this interesting. I started picking up the partial shells and examining them closely. The colors in many of them were brilliant. The shapes were quite unusual and beautiful. Some were very think and heavy. Some had fossils of small creatures on them. I became much more interested in the pieces rather then the wholes.
It was then God spoke in my head.
Think of my people. There are so many more crushed and worn down people than there are "perfect" ones. And the "perfect" ones tend to be less interesting, maybe even dull. The ocean and sand together, has worn character into the shells. Aren't they lovely?
And lovely they are. We tend to like whole things. I do. I prefer an un-opened can of soda. I like a yard full of grass and no weeds. I like all the cabinet doors in my kitchen to be closed and the drawers shut. But life is not neat. Life is messy, harsh, wearing, and it likes to break us. This is the society we live in. As broken and worn down as we may be, we are still important. We are still brilliant, and beautiful, and lovely. Do you love the people around you any less after they have been in a crisis? Sometimes it can make you appreciate what is there.
I will always treasure my time on the beach. I will continue to hunt for the prizes and I still like to find the whole shells. But I don't dismiss the broken fragments anymore. I never will again.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The last time we went to the beach, my daughter was on her boogie board until she could no longer stand, and my son wanted nothing to do with the water or sand, preferring instead to chase the seagulls. This left me in the in-between position of trying to keep an eye on my daughter in the potentially lethal ocean and watching my son run after birds who would leap into the air and seemingly disappear. That was two years ago. I'm interested to see how it will be different this time. They are both two years older and my daughter may be more worried about her hair getting wet (almost 12) while my son may find the water irresistable (3). I honestly don't care who wants to do what. We will be spending time on the beach. We will be together. We will be making memories. Whatever we do, it will be the only summer of 2009 so we'll make the best of it. I'll tell ya how it turns out, later.