I like going to the beach. Not so much for the swimming, although I like doing that too, when the weather is right and the conditions are good. (Definitely not for sunbathing.) I think my favorite beach activity is looking at stuff and picking stuff up. My senses become so attuned to finding beauty in the tiny objects mixed in with the sand that I can only think of those things, or perhaps the things they remind me of.
We are at the beach this week, not on vacation, but to have time without distractions to reflect and write and prepare for our home assignment this summer.
Beautiful scenery and fresh air and exercise are aids to creativity, so I went out for a walk this morning between essays. Last time we came here, I was drawn to smooth rocks and moon-snail shells. This time, I have been collecting beach glass.
Beach glass is often used as a metaphor for the process of maturing through adversity: continually tossed by waves with sand and salt, the sharp edges are worn down.
I couldn’t help but remember, though, my Dad’s warning to me when I got my first camera: never let your camera come into contact with sand. The sand will scratch the lens, and it then the camera will be worthless.
The beautiful opaque surface of beach glass is actually made up of scratches and scars that will never “heal.” Until the glass is recycled, those scars will remain. These shards are indeed worthless for their original purpose, but not ultimately worthless: re-purposed, they could become something far more sublime than a beer bottle.
As I look back over these last two years, I’ve struggled to remember the encouraging things that happened, and even more so things that will be meaningful to anyone other than me. But this walk on the beach has made me hopeful that eventually I will see some beauty and purpose even in my own brokenness… maybe even this week as I write!
How will God use my scars to show his glory? I’m looking forward to finding out.
Which brings me to an important announcement:
Mid-June through mid-August we will be in North America on a short home assignment, based in Seattle. We are in the process of working out our schedule, so we will have more details soon. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you this summer, and sharing the stories we’re writing this week!