Prayers from the Island Broken Beauty

Broken Beauty

Friends came for dinner last night and bought me a piece of handmade jewelry. The pin is formed of overlapping pieces of shell glued to create a design as rhythmical as the surf, as revealing as the sand shore. Different shells capture the light in varying ways, catching and holding, reflecting, or framing a small pearl set in a tiny shell at the pin’s center. Even holes drilled by predators become part of the design. If I had seen these broken pieces of shell on the shore, I would have been blind to their beauty, but in the hands of my talented friend, their loveliness is revealed. Perhaps God’s church is like this pin, broken pieces of shell gathered and amalgamated to form a beautiful whole Each piece, with it own separate gifts combines to form a unified whole, reinforcing where there is weakness, strengthening where there is need, celebrating when there is victory. Even holes, pierced by the pain of living, become part of the design, allowing pieces to come together. Thank you, Lord, for this reminder that our brokenness is perfected in your presence, made beautiful though your touch. Amen.

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Scattered PearlsScattered Pearls

This morning’s beach walk revealed a surprise; the water’s rim was scattered with pearls!  They came in various sizes from tiny seed pearls to larger beads, each perfectly shaped and opalescent in the morning light.  Perhaps they were eggs from some sea creature, or perhaps they were seedpods; no one at the ranger station could identify them. I could, I suppose research and understand their origin, but I prefer to think of them as pearls.  A gift of pearls, entirely unexpected.  They remind me of Jesus’ comparison of the Kingdom of Heaven as a valuable pearl.  When I see these “pearls” spread so freely in the sand, I am reminded that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around me, here and now.  It is not only in the future, but also here, this moment in the present.  I thank you, Dear Lord for these pearls that festoon the beach, pearls whose biologic origin I can’t explain, but pearls that symbolize the Heaven you’ve prepared for me. Amen.

Planting PansiesPlanting Pansies

 I planted a flat of pansies today, eager for spring’s splash of color in my heard.  The island consists entirely of sand and oyster shells, so maintaining soil is difficult.  I try to add topsoil, but it filters through the sand and vanishes.  I must work at growing flowers on the island, digging, replenishing, fertilizing and watering.

My religious life is like that too.  I can’t take for granted that an occasional watering or spading or fertilizing will suffice; I need to work at my faith, keeping it weeded and tended.  Too often I assume the seeds of faith planted as a child should be enough to last me all my life, but that’s not good enough.  Please forgive me, Father, when I neglect my garden of faith; help me to be a more faithful, diligent, and joyful gardener.

Pearl ButtonsPearl Buttons

When I was a child, I had a dress-up blouse with pearl buttons. My mother explained they came from the inside of the oyster shell; a bit of sand or other irritant caused the oyster to form so beautiful a pearl. I remember well my pride in that blouse and its beautiful buttons. Now I see oyster shells in abundance on the bay shore, shells in such numbers that walking is sometimes difficult. Each shell, I suppose, had the potential to produce a beautiful pear button, buttons that capture the light and break it into soft pastel prisms. Now these shells have no useful purpose other than lining the shore and recycling their materials back into the sea. Buttons must be stamped and shaped, polished and pierced before they can be used to connect, joining pieces of material. People are like that; we possess the potential for beauty and service, but first we must be shaped and polished so the light can radiate through us, so we can unify and connect with others. Please, Lord, let me be your servant. Work and mold me until I too am your pearl button, able to heal and join, able to do your beautiful work in the world. Amen.