A friend is having a birthday soon, someone dear from my childhood. I chose a shell for her, carefully placing it in a box as a gift. The shell is perfect, an empty home from a creature, a home so beautiful no human could create it. What else can I give her? She has jewelry and jars of jam, books still unread and perfume never yet sprayed. She owns tee shirts and cute plaques, and souvenirs from the island. I shall give her this shell, chosen from among the millions on the beach because of its beauty and strength, its delicacy and purity. And with it I shall send this prayer, “Thank you, Dear God, for this good woman who has been my dear friend for life. Keep her and all her family safe and may she know, like this shell, she is wholly unique and loved—one among millions and millions.” Amen.