Broken shells and open people

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2017

By Jean Brody

There was nothing that calmed me and made me happy right down to my toes like the hours I spent walking the beach and collecting shells.

We were fortunate enough to have a beach home on Perdio Key in Florida and we spent the cold months there.

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It is an incredible beach for finding millions of different kinds of shells. You know that’s where you’d find me most every day.

One of the best parts of beach walking is all of the interesting people you meet. I thought about this a lot because I’m such a people person.

People talk so easily on the beach. Often, no names are even exchanged, but what is exchanged is a moment or two between strangers, a sharing of treasures found.

There is a difference between the encounter on the beach from the one’s passing on the city street. Why do you think that is?

Maybe just the fact that both of you are, for what ever time, out of the loop, the rat race, and nothing to do with getting ahead. We tend to shed stress and open up, and I loved it.

My years of beach living taught me people come to the beach to think, to rest, to love, to be and it is then that beach encounters   are easy.

As I write this, one encounter comes to mind and I’d like to tell you about it. After lunch one warm and salty day I gathered my trusty “shelling” bag and off I went.

As I stepped on to the familiar feel of white soft sand I got to thinking, “You know my house is absolutely filled up with my daily haul of shells. Maybe today I will only pick up and keep the really perfect and beautiful ones and toss the rest back onto the sand.”

The very first shell I saw, I bent to pick it up but it was chipped on one side so, reluctantly, I tossed it back. I passed a lady doing the same thing.

We sort of fell in together and walked, picked up shells and tossed. I said to her it didn’t feel so good to be interested in only the perfect shells. She agreed as we parted.

The next day, I went out again and there was that same lady. We automatically walked a bit together.

I saw her toss down a shell and as she bent to pick it back up, she smiled the sweetest smile and said, “Aren’t you thankful that God doesn’t toss us away when we are flawed, broken or not beautiful?”

What a thought. I looked at this lady, a stranger really, and said to her, “I sure am, otherwise we’d be dead ducks.”

As I continued on my walk alone, I kept thinking about her words. Suddenly, I saw a broken conch shell sticking out of the sand.

I would never want it because it was all broken and discolored, but then I tried to see it through God’s eyes. It was suddenly the most beautiful shade of coral on the outside and deep ocean blue inside. I knew it lay in my path to teach me again that, though flawed, it still was lovely and most important, it sill had worth.

God loves us the very same way and never tosses us away. I shall try harder to see more through His eyes.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.