It was totally new to me. I’d never heard of sea glass.
I was in West Africa for a week, speaking at an international women’s retreat.
I didn’t know anyone there, and I was often alone. Took walks alone. Swam in the ocean alone. Not sure if my presence or my words mattered to anyone.
It was okay, I got through it, and I would soon be back home.
But God had planned a benediction for me.
When the retreat was done, missionary D. dutifully took me to her apartment where I could stay until my flight two days later.
After supper, she showed me her craft room, filled with jars and wooden boxes of odd-shaped, small pieces of colored glass.
Sea glass, she said.
Interesting, I thought.
In case you don’t know like I didn’t, sea glass is pieces of broken bottles and porcelain that come from shipwrecks or trash thrown in the ocean or on beaches.
The glass shards are worn smooth after years of rolling in the salt water, tumbled by waves and washed to shore, losing the sharp edges and slick surface, and gaining a frosty, soft appearance.
The polishing takes years, through storms and tides, rolling with the regular and ceaseless and powerful movements of the ocean.
This month has been stormy. Crazy-busy-intense. Jake and I are full-time helping pregnant, full-time nurse Daughter #4 to build a house (S.T.R.E.S.S.F.U.L.) and keep her 2 y.o. (tiring) and our road is closed indefinitely. (The long detour is annoying!)
The pressure is exposing my sharp edges: impatience and complaining and fear and worry.
I like thinking about sea glass . . .
So, Debbie invited to take me to her favorite sea glass beach and the next day, with buckets and large sun-hats, we were off.
Drove to the shore, contracted a canoe-taxi to take us to a small island in the bay, then we walked about a kilometer through a crowded-with-houses neighborhood, around the southern edge of the island to the wide open rocky shore of the Atlantic Ocean.
Picking our way through boulders and rocks, we climbed over into a cove with a beach about the size of a soccer field. Debbie said this place used to be the trash dump for the island.
Between the large gray and black rocks were shallow tide pools, forming pockets, caches, hundreds of them, filled with thousands of pieces of colored glass.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating.
Such beautiful treasures! I was hooked. Looking for blues and yellows and reds among every shade of green. Finding bottle bottoms, marbles, tiny ‘mermaid tears’ and pieces of ceramic tiles.
Such a happy afternoon. Made that trip to Senegal unforgettable.
On my desk here I have some of that African sea glass.
I keep it to show my grandchildren.
Besides sharing my story of how God blessed me on that beach, I want to teach them the truth about how God uses the storms and tides of life.
I want them to know that the regular and ceaseless and powerful movements of God’s love can humble us, and transform us, softening the hard edges of our sins and brokenness to make us gentle, unique and beautiful.
Treasured by God.
And I will tell them how the lesson of sea glass has often given me hope and comfort.
Thank you, Lord.