The fog was so heavy that morning on the Texas Gulf Coast that we could hardly distinguish the building next to ours. My friend and I followed the path down to the waters’ edge and sat down just at the high-water line. The tide had peaked, and it was impossible to tell if it was still coming in or beginning to recede. The gray waves appeared to be coming directly out of the gray sky and lapped at our feet. We could see a few shore birds skittering into the water looking for breakfast. We were, at that moment, totally absorbed into that colorless gray environment. And for the moment, we were isolated and alone as I began to meld into something far bigger than myself. I cannot describe how I felt that morning, but it was more like connectedness than loneliness. As though I was being drawn into another time and space. It was a profound feeling.
I had a similar experience years ago when my husband and I found ourselves alone at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. But that time was terrifying for me. The Canyon was so vast. The sky was so vast, and I was so small that I did not know how God could possibly know where I was. Had I understood then that God resides in me, not out there somewhere, I would probably not have been crawling on my hands and knees on the sidewalk. On the beach that morning, I was aware of Gods’ presence.
My friend was preparing a talk for a spiritual retreat and was reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea. We started walking along the wet sand looking for shells she could use to illustrate her talk. I had decided not to collect any. At home, I had boxes and boxes of shells, from previous trips. Then as we walked, I began to notice beautiful pieces of shells. Soon I had a pocket full of pieces. As I reflected on what I held in my hand I began to think about brokenness, my own brokenness, the worlds brokenness. In my hand I was holding what once was alive and whole, now only a fragment of a reality that is part of creation, still evidence of a God-given beauty. Could it be possible for us to see each other as pieces of a larger whole? A beautiful whole? Could we learn to look at the pieces of our own brokenness and see the beauty that God has created us to be?
The boxes of shells were a casualty of downsizing for our move. The pieces came with me to our new home. They are in a gold dish given to my grandparents for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yes, they too had their brokenness as did their daughter, my mother. I remember them, not for their failures, but for their strengths and love and wholeness.
Ann is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way.