One of the things I love to do at the beach is collect shells. I’m fascinated by the life they used to live, the depths of the ocean they’ve seen, and the purpose they served. But most of all, I love the colors, sizes, shapes, and textures of the shells. Colors of white, pearl, orange, pink, green, brown and black. Sizes from tiny to large; thin and thick; shapes beyond just round or rectangular. Smooth textures, as well as ridges, bumps, and patterns that let me feel the changes made by time and the rough ocean surf. Colors, sizes, shapes, and textures that almost never appear in duplicate without some type of variation.
I walk past many just to pick up a few. In my hand I consider it and decide if it’s worth keeping. I cast it away for some flaw such as a chip, or its color too plain, or otherwise not interesting enough. I keep only those that make the cut.
I wasn’t always that picky. Over the years, a once annual trip to the beach was a treat and I’d mark the occasion by bringing back tokens of the event in a big bag. Shells of all sizes, colors, shapes, and textures collected while watching the sunrise; while watching my sons build a sand castle or dig their way to China through the sand.
Shells collected in happy years, as well as those chosen during times of great sadness, contemplating the complexities of life, or facing dilemmas with uncertainty. No matter the occasion, the shells were there, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures ready to be chosen if only I would pick them up.
At one time I had a 5 gallon bucket full of these chosen treasures. I was going through a transition in my life and looked at this bucket of memories, wondering if they had outlived their purpose.
Tapping into my creative side, I started painting the shells with a clear coat of gold glitter, then making them into designs of flowers and crosses. To me, they were pretty ways to re-purpose shells that had outlived their purpose in the ocean, but still had something to offer.
The flowers are the beauty of nature, colors that reflect all that is good, and pure, and true. The cross is the goodness of God, in never ending sizes and shapes. When we need Him, He is sure to be there, waiting for us to pick Him.
This revelation makes me feel bad for the shells not chosen….those I had cast back to the ocean because they weren’t quite good enough.
There are times I feel like the shell; looked over, judged, cast back. But like the flower, I, too, represent the beauty of nature, with much to offer that is with the best of intentions. Sometimes I may just need a little polish.
If I am the flower, no matter my color, size, shape, or texture; then surely God is the Cross, and He would never cast me away.