Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sand Dollar People

The bad thing about blogging is you’re always looking for material.

The good thing is you sometimes you find it.

Since an early age, I’ve been a sand dollar freak. Waking up early in the morning and walking on the beach in search of the wild and elusive whole and perfect sand dollar has been a simple pleasure I’ve always loved. And…I’ve been pretty successful. One year on the Oregon Coast I found more than two hundred whole and perfect sand dollars.

So here in 2009 I’m back again and still find it a wonderful past time when the tide is right, my legs are strong, and it’s not too cold or foggy to go early. So far in my first week I’ve found about 80 (and others have snagged another 150 or so).

Years ago, I likened sand dollar hunting to our pursuit of God. We needed to:
1. Get up earlier
2. Go further than others are willing to go (more than a mile down a beach)
3. Look closer for the buried ones
4. Then you’ll find the treasure you’re seeking (with God).

Today, however, with my focus on becoming a better and more perceptive lover of souls, I’m naturally looking for lessons on that. But first a few observations on being a good sand dollar hunter…

1.The whole and perfect sand dollar can only be found in the company of broken ones. If you find broken sand dollars, you’ll eventually find whole ones. They’re always mixed in together.

2.The more rocks you see on the beach next to the sand dollar pieces, the fewer whole sand dollars you find. The rocks simply do a number on them and few survive the journey to wholeness. Sand dollars are fragile and easily broken, so they must be handled with care. The ocean and then getting washed up on the beach is a dangerous thing.

3.Most whole sand dollars aren’t found just laying out in the open; they are half buried, many with just a small portion of it sticking out of the sand. You have to see the tell tale signs of a potential whole sand dollar (the top sticking barely out, a corner of one turned up), then dig it out, put it in some water and brush off the sand to see if it’s damaged or whole.

4.There are a hundred times more broken sand dollars as there are whole ones. Most are broken in half; though many are still round, but have varying degrees of holes in them, some large, but some with just a small hole.

5.Most sand dollars start out as whole while they’re in the ocean, but as they’re washed up on the shore they become broken and “imperfect.”

6.While there are lots of shapes and sizes of whole sand dollars, each is beautiful in its own way.

Without going overboard on the similarities, I see some familiar lessons about people:

1.All of us start out fairly whole, beautiful in our own way. We’re in our element for a season, but then comes the eventual tossing and turning about that life gives us all.

2.The tides of life wash us up on the shore, out in the open. A few arrive unscathed by the pounding of life, but most have traveled to shore mixed in with rocks (difficult circumstances; difficult people); therefore, there are holes in the perfection that once was, some large and some small. But no one escapes imperfections.

3.While it’s nice to find the whole person who has lived life unscathed, we ought not to be drawn only to those who look perfect. We can find the treasure of a whole sand dollar and admire it, but we cannot do so with people (unless we only want one or two friends).

4.No matter the quality of glue; no matter how steady a hand, I cannot make a broken sand dollar whole and beautiful again with my own skill. Nor can I do so with people.

5.God is able to remember the wholeness in each of us that once was; and then he’s able to see beyond our brokenness and to create a wholeness inside of us with such skill and love that anyone would have to admit that it was done supernaturally through Jesus.

Most people are broken in some way. Nearly all. There is beauty in the brokenness, though it must be looked for more carefully. What makes sand dollars (and shells) so wonderful is they are so intricate; so wonderfully made.

And that’s why, to me, people are the main thing in life; that’s why we look beyond the imperfections and go deeper and look more carefully at them to see their beauty…their beauty in the wholeness that God can re-create in them. A beauty that gets a push from us when we love well.

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