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.