Head down, eyes down, I walk. And decide that the vast seashore of this glorious beach on this day after super high tides and wind and moon will contain a vast trove of treasures deposited on this very beach.
So I walk and I look. I vary my path, zigzag from high in the dunes to down by the sea. I think as a collector of beach beauty ,what will seem special, what will be treasure, what will look like art from the hand of The Artist, creator God. What beauty lies here to be found and gathered and picked.
No basket, no bucket nothing to gather but my hands I makeshift my coverup into a place to hold my findings.
And at the end of this day, as we leave by boat I force myself to decide which pieces to take with me back to the land. I have a heavy load of beautiful conch shells, all chosen because they were perfect. Their colors, their shapes, their uniqueness, they are beautiful each one.
Two olive shells would go with me to my bowl of shells, collected over time.
But I found the greatest beauty lay in the oyster shell covered in barnacles. Blemish to some, beauty to others. They added their layer of interest to the original shell. And the moon shell, too she’s covered up. She bears the passengers, barnacles, attached to her. Giving her, this moon shell, an added radiance. Added depth of interest.
We return to shore, my flawed treasures in tow.
And later, as we slowly put along the creek in the little Boston Whaler, with day ending and night beginning we soak in more. And I record what makes this village special. What marks her uniqueness as a seaside town, unlike any other.
I look back at what was beautiful. I think back on what seemed beautiful. And while all the white boats and white houses against blue sky were and are, the little rusty Miss Candace caught my eye and I want to know her story.
Like a historian digging into her past with the hope of finding more by digging deep in discovery as the archeologist would, I guess. She has seen much. She may need a fresh coat of paint. She is perfect the way she is.
Her battleship gray and rust stand strong. She wears weather well. She has a life of stories that out last and outshine superficial exteriors. Her patina speaks softly of life and the sea. She wears weathered storms like a beauty mark. She is strength. She is beautiful.
And her neighbor Sarah. Her name means lady of high ranking or high standing. In Hebrew, princess. She wears her name well with dignity and pride, this little warrior of the ocean This shrimp boat whom others depend on to return to the docks with a bountiful harvest after long days and nights of labor.
She is small, but she is strong. I wonder at her past. I wonder of her hard times. And below the water line I know she too carries barnacles, firmly attached. Holding on, catching a ride through life on the sea.
They look steady. They look strong. They look useful. And as we pass through on a little ride through their harbor they seem peaceful. At rest. No pitching and tossing on the sea, in search of shrimp. Purposeful trips to the ocean postponed for a respite.
Story. Their story. Our stories. My story. Don’t they include the rust and the barnacle.
Isn’t the trip to sea which added the ding and the dent, one I want to hear. One that has depth and meaning and lesson. Isn’t it the one that added strength and charachter.
Didn’t the time she went out and almost didn’t return the one that shows she was tested out in that sea, that time when all seemed dark. Wouldn’t I ask her to tell me more of that.
Is the time of full nets and blue skies and calm seas the story I most want to hear from her. Don’t I want to know her overcoming times, her coming through rough sea times.
As I see her calm and at rest, covered up in peace and the still of her harbor, her dock. I share her joy in this time of preparation. She is beautiful at peace. And I am grateful that she will go out again, barnacles and uncertain seas and unknown trials to gather the shrimp which will go on my table. Shrimp that will delight my family, meal after meal.
Her story is of great value.
Your story is of great value.
Our stories, with all that they are, the beauty and the barnacles are there to be told. And cherished. Learned from. Drawn from. Celebrated.
Our journeys to the cross and by way of the cross and in the shadow of the cross.
And all God’s people say “Amen”
“Before God can use a man greatly he must wound him deeply.” Oswald Chambers.