I pick up a handful of white sand on the beach, and let its grains drift through my fingers. This coarse sand, with its impurities removed, is the source of glass. On the island of Murano, in the Venetian lagoon, glass factories take sand like this, melt it in furnaces, and transform the sand into beautiful glass, glass of transparency and grace, glass molded or blown into exquisite shapes not possible when it existed as sand. The secret is the firing; incredible heat must break down the sand so it can be remade, modeled into works of beauty and usefulness. I wonder about those periods in my own life when I am in the furnace of crisis, when troubles and doubts consume me and I feel my strength and my faith melting. I pray, Lord, that in those times you will remind me you are in control, that I will emerge as your work of art, both beautiful and useful in your service. May I, like humble sand, become your shining creation. Amen.