This time we found mostly broken things.
The beach was beautiful, maybe the most beautiful I have ever seen it. Pristine blue water, white beaches, cloudless sky. But as we walked the endless sand each day, on the hunt for shells, we found only broken pieces.
At first I found myself full of melancholy that one of our favorite beach pastimes turned out to be unusually fruitless. But then I found myself sifting through all those tattered bits, picking up one piece after another and examining the beauty, imagining what each wondrous shard must have looked like when it was whole. I sat there with my hands full of myriads of color and pattern and texture and shape. I looked out over the blue ocean and imagined a whole world of this under the surface, down deep where no eye can see. What must it be like, that world of riotous color and life?
For every whole, perfect shell that washes onto the beach, there are millions (maybe billions?) of pieces. Broken bits that didn’t make it through the storm-tossed currents and pounding waves. Unwhole. They wash up where our feet stand rooted in our worlds, reminding us of Something Else. And broken as they are, they make our world more beautiful.
I contemplated those broken bits as I walked the beach today, thinking of how they remind me of a glory just outside my perception, another world that is beautiful, vast, and thriving with vibrant life. Those with the right tools get glimpses of that world, going to places the rest of us only imagine. They bring back their stories and pictures. But even they cannot live there, cannot hold onto the glory for longer than a few moments.
Those shattered shells bring me hope because they keep coming and coming, little glimpses of glory all adding up to a promise of more where that came from. SO much more. And if the little damaged pieces (and occasional unmarred treasures) can bring us such joy, imagine what they would all look like whole. There is so much beauty waiting, so much I cannot see.
Maybe it’s silly to make such a small comparison to the glory that is coming for us. But it’s a reminder just the same. I think God likes to use broken things as a reflection of Something Else. Something that is waiting. With the right tools, we get glimpses. But we don’t live there, not yet. Soon. In the meantime, dip your hands into the water and pull up all the brokenness your hands can hold. Stand still, see the beauty, and imagine what is to come.