“Going to the beach” conjures up many images and emotional responses – depending on your background and personal likes and dislikes. (Though I’ve never been able to understand a person who states, “if you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all.”) The beach is a place of mystery, sand and surf, salt water, sandcastles, driftwood, palm trees, sunseekers, and solitude. I have discovered it also to be a place of seashells and praises.
Seashells and Praises
Several years ago I was visiting one of my favorite beaches in Florida. I had walked miles of surf for the past six days and knew that today would be my last visit for many months. The beach has always been a place of solace for me – a place to sort out life’s gnarly issues. At the beach things seem less complicated. The ever-changing shifting sands are different with each new wave; therefore never the same, yet consistent in the coming in and going out. On this day, the day after a storm, the beach was littered with the most beautiful array of thousands of seashells.
I had watched the ever-changing moods of the waves. They had been gentle, lapping like a mountain lake, raging, pounding the beach like a small hurricane. Sunrise came with the awakening calls of the sea gulls, and sunset gave us entertainment as we watched the dolphins taking an evening swim performing antics and jumps like a close-knit family after all the company has gone home- playing together, showing off the new tricks in the safety of the circle of family.
I picked up thirty or more varieties of sea shells in quantities of fifty to bring home to my children’s’ choir. Having done that, I walked alone at sunset one last time. I felt immense sadness and aloneness. Gazing into the sunset as it fell gently – light as a feather drifting down into the water – my eyes were dazzled with the gold as it touched and painted the whitecaps of the waves that swelled and rolled majestically toward shore.
Stooping down I studied the thousands of perfect shells all around my feet – and suddenly I had a panicky feeling that I should take more shells. Pondering this urge, I began to commune with the Creator of this majestic sea. A Bible verse came to mind as I stood alone on the beach that evening. “The sea is His, He made it . . .”(Psalm 95:1). I fought the impulse to “take more” and began to praise the One who created all. I found myself rejoicing in the beauty, the simplicity, consistency, and yes, the complexities of the sea.
I studied the intricacies of each of the tiny shells in my hand. Such perfection in the design that had been formed by a sea creature, or abandoned and left on the sand. The colorations and varied patterns were so delicate. The beauty of each piece was like its own work of art worthy of appreciation in its uniqueness.
A great peace, satisfaction and serenity began to transform my heart and mind, and I knew I was ready to say good bye. I was ready to face the ensuing separation from my beloved days at the beach without the need to gather more shells. This shoreline here on the beach had become a place of worship and joy and I was ready to take home the memories of seashells and praises. When I look at my seashell collection I see more than just shells from the beach. I see intricate treasures and the reminder to pause and sing praises for the gift of life, treasures of friendship, joys of family, and the comfort of knowing the God who says the sea is His, He made it.
Do you collect seashells? If so you simply MUST check out this happy website. Are you a beach person? Some of my favorite places are Caladesi Island, North Shore HI, and the coastline of Oregon. Where are some of your favorites?