This one tiny shell is less than 2 inches tip to tip, half the size of its photo. Although I have a basket of shells that are larger, I keep this one on top of the gratitude journal in which I write every morning. I pick it up before I open the book. It is almost weightless in the palm of my hand, yet it is heavy with stories.The shell is one of a number of True Tulip shells collected when Joe and I went with our sons out to the mud flats off Sanibel Island, Florida. We spent most of the time on the beach near our rental apartment, searching for shells, building sand castles and a tracking a hurricane! Our sons still talk about it.
We added this to our last few days on the island because of a disappointed 9-year-old son. Jeremy used his trip money at the local Wal-Mart to buy a throw net, a net with weights that can be cast out to bring in small fish and other treasures. After only a single use, the net was stolen from the area where he had carefully spread it to dry. We planned the trip out into the flats to gather shells to soften the loss, an adventure all of us would enjoy.
I had no way of knowing in 1980 that many years later, one of the smallest of the shells collected during that family fun would be held in my hand during my morning prayer time. It is one tiny shell, holding the sounds of the ocean and the laughter of my sons.
I love the ancient oak trees growing near our church. To look through the arching branches reminds me of the relationship between ecclesiastical architecture and the hands of God seen in nature.
rustic arbor of arching branches
twisted in patterns of Gothic lace
inviting me to look beyond
photograph by Jeremy Parker
When I first saw this photo, I almost missed the tiny, solitary figure of my 11 year old granddaughter standing still to gaze at the beauty of this mountain lake in Nevada. She and her sister hiked here with their Daddy, my son. They fished for trout in the clear cold water. I am thrilled to see that Maddie also stood still and experienced the wonder of tall reaching evergreens, and glistening lake with its ripples and reflections. I like to think about the beauty she experienced here, the sounds and fragrance of the woods. I have seen her Dad stand still and wonder, too. I believe moments like this do come suddenly, as glimpses, when we turn a corner. I am thankful I can experience this with her, prompted by a photo, felt deeply in my heart.
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… –Madeleine L’Engle, from The Rock That Is Higher
gossamer web holding morning dew
one night’s spinning
Last fall my niece Jen sent me these 2 lovely autumn leaves. She lives in New Jersey, so autumn puts on a more colorful show there than we get on the South Texas Gulf Coast. They arrived in perfect condition and I pressed them between the pages of my gratitude journal. This week I smiled with pleasure when the leaves fell again – out into my lap. I texted her a thank you. It was as if they waited until the calendar said go for their repeat performance.
reluctant raindrops linger
gathered on leaf’s edge.