A wave slips around my toes, the kiss of cold foam stirring the sand, revealing a glint of pearly pink. I bend and pick up the shell, just a fragment, the swirled design cut short by ragged edges. It’s been crushed by the waves, ground by the sand, yet I admire it and slip it into my bucket with the others I’ve collected.
The bright bottom of the plastic castle-shaped bucket is filled with shell pieces of all shapes and sizes, the few rare purples standing out in dark contrast to the pale tans and pinks. All of them are beautiful. All of them give a glimpse of the once-whole home that was so carefully built to house the various creatures. I’ll make something pretty with these pieces… I’ll make them into a whole.
It occurred to me that we are like those shells. The world has crushed us and battered us. Perhaps we have a few sharp edges, or ragged tears. We’ve given part of ourselves to the world, and contributed to its change, perhaps just as subtly as the few grains of sand each shell adds to the beach around it. We’re broken, and lie in the midst of the busy world, sometimes feeling useless and forgotten, buried in the sands of time.
Then He comes. Our Heavenly Father scoops us up, just like I picked up that broken shell. He sees a reflection of Himself as the Creator in the colors that curl across the hard surface, in the emotions that swirl in our hearts. He sees what we once were, what we would have been had we not been marred by the sin of the world. He knows what we will be, when we are whole once again--perfect and untarnished.
Most of all, He loves. He sees beauty in our broken offerings, lifts us in His hands, and puts us safely into His kingdom, His castle. He has chosen us. We have accepted Him. Nothing we can do can change the way He sees us, because He sees us whole, redeemed, His own precious shell. His child.
These are my reflections today, as I wandered the beaches. My family is vacationing for a glorious week. I’ve been in a lot of pain and nausea, but still I find grace. I have time to relax (as much as possible) and read, book after book. I can gaze out the window and watch the sunset over the waves right from my bed. Even now as I type I see the golden-crested waves slowly giving way to the deep blue of dusk. The royal blue that fills my soul and touches my heart with a beauty only a Creator could give.
This week I listen to my nieces giggle over the wonders of the ocean, and reach for lots of wet hugs and sandy snuggles. My family gathers together, playing games, talking walks, being together. My sister and I lie awake, pain chasing the sleep far from our eyes, and we talk and giggle long into the wee hours of the mornings.
All of us crowd together to peer at the odd spectacle of a piranha stretched dying on the shore, far from his native waters, showing sharp lines of jagged teeth as he gasps for breath. We rush to the window to spot the huge crabs that line the beach, count the seventeen pelicans that fly above, or squint to catch a glimpse of the otters that play just below the water’s surface.
Yes, there are times I can’t walk much because I feel too sick, or times I can’t play much because it hurts too bad. But even in those times I know beauty and love, from my family and from God. And, as I watch the sun dance on the tips of the waves like glittering paths of live embers, I know all is well. For broken as I am, I’m secure in the Creator’s hand. He sees beauty, and I love in return.