Prayers from the Island The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift

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  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.

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Friend and FoeFriend and Foe

When we moved to FL from MI, we were given weird tales of flora and fauna.  Gators that lurked everywhere, dining each evening on cats and dogs.  Snakes, all poisonous, hiding under each leaf, eager to puncture and inject their venom.  Poisonous plants and trees, scorpions and centipedes, millipedes and giant cockroaches—creeping, crawling, and flying horrors that seemed overwhelming.  I’ve lived here now for 24 years, and my life is one of peaceful détente. Yes, there are poisonous creatures, but their poison is chiefly a defensive mechanism; if left alone, they tend to hurry away.  Should such a creature be more persistent, the hose usually does the job.  There are, it’s true, some unwelcome creatures here that bite with unpleasant consequences, but similar creatures exist in most other places as well.  All in all, I am in awe of the world around me.  Live and let live is our general philosophy since we are the newcomers.  To see the beauty and variety of the world around me is to see God in all of His creative energy.


Our dock juts out into the bay, and when we pull up a rope that holds a float, I find it covered with barnacles.  I’m always surprised at how quickly they accumulate, these tenacious creatures who cement themselves to a foundation they’ve deemed sturdy.  The rope isn’t sturdy, of course, and so they’re pulled out of the water, left to dry in the sun’s heat.  Other barnacles, those who’ve adhered themselves to the dock supports, have a firmer foundation and will spend their lives in safety.  Like the barnacle who selects a slippery and unsafe home, I am sometimes tempted to fasten my faith to an unsuitable base.  Please Lord help me hold tightly to you, my safe harbor and rock of all ages. Amen.



 A high tide swept water up the beach, creating an extended inland pool.  Small fish were washed into it, enjoying its warmth and refuge from larger fish.  But this morning, the access to the sea has dried; the pond is isolated and slowly disappearing.  Now these small fish are easy prey to wading birds and the hot sun.  Their hours are numbered.  I can’t help but think how vulnerable we are when we’re separated from our fellow Christians!  I’m reminded how much I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to sustain me when my spirit feels arid, when my faith falters and runs dry.  Please, God, keep me connected o your family in faith.  I need their sustaining love and encouragement to strengthen me, and allow me to strengthen them in their times of need. Amen.