The fragments were always there at the intersection of turbulent churning and terra firma. Either I had not known they were there, or I was too distracted to see them over the years.
My happy friend showed me how to spot them. Rhonda is fun and observant; I was eager to find what she had already discovered. There’s one! A little larger than a dried pea but a special find none-the-less. There’s another! A blue one. And another, this one translucent white. We kept moving forward, intentionally searching along the way. A brown one…another brown one. Aahh, a creamy green one.
As waves retreated back into the ocean, we found remnants from discarded bottles broken into little pieces at water’s edge. I tentatively reached for them in the same way I retracted from painfully, sharp fragments from abandonment, from abortion, from judging at a distance, from missed opportunities of loving with abandon, from storms in life. Broken fragments can hurt. However these battered, glass fragments had now become sought-after treasures.
This intersection of tumbling waves and grinding sand is where cutting glass has lost its painful edges. No longer sharp and threatening, each broken bit of glass had been abraded and honed over time. I rolled the worn fragment between my fingertips. Small, smoothed treasures from hurtful brokenness…I searched for more reminders of transformation.
I don’t do collections. Well, I do have several shells but most of them came from a deceased uncle. I retrieved his shells from the trash after the purging of his house. But beach glass…collecting tidbits of redeemed time was compelling. Before long, each one of us had collected a palm-full of time and tide-honed fragments of beach glass.
Each ‘stone’ has an irregular shape, some lackluster, and many so small they could be insignificant. Only a few were rejected...the unfinished ones. One piece, in particular, was identifiable as part of a bottle neck, still with sharp, cutting edges that could draw blood and damage. I hesitated holding onto it before finding a trash bin. Instead I heaved it out into the depths of the sea. Over time the movement of the ocean’s dynamic forces would toss it ashore again. And together, the water and sand would refine this bottle neck into a new, redeemed form. Beach glass…exposed, valued, worth-keeping and treasured. My just-enough collection is contained in a small decorative bowl in my kitchen where I notice the worn bits many times a day.
On my last birthday, I walked the beach alone listening to the final chapters of The Help downloaded onto my iPhone. My new friends, Eugenia, Aibeleen, Minny and Celia walked with me sharing their stories through my earbuds. Those women have been broken too…like beach glass, like me. Change has no color consideration and is basically the same: rejection, storm surges, brokenness, grinding, weathering, honing, transformation, humbling, change, rediscovery. Their story ended as I finished the audio book. My heart was so full it spilled over onto my wet cheeks. But my steps kept going, as did my thoughts.
I imagine Aibeleen and friends chattering in the distance, across the horizon near the sunset. All I can make out is Aibe’s voice: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Her words stick to my skin like grains of beach sand. I don’t want to brush them off.
As I walked towards the sunset, the sun’s lowered rays reflect back something at water’s edge. For me, the birthday girl? I wait for the next ripple of wave to pass and watch for the shaft’s reflection. And then I saw what it was…a pink one! I didn’t even know that pink beach glass existed, and for that matter, that I would be the one to find such a rare gift. It was almost as if my journey had lead me directly to it. I stooped low to receive my perfected piece of pink.
That day I discovered a personal treasure….unique, fearfully and wonderfully made, and intrinsically valued. I was so excited to share my find, I returned home to patient husband with a pink blessing in my palm and in my soul. And, I continue to notice grains of beach sand in my car, in my shoes, at the bottom of my purse, in my pockets, and in my bowl where my collection of beach glass resides.