Songs of Nature

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Day 23

Written By Eyleen Farmer

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson, Hawkeye Nature Photography


The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and will save those whose spirits are crushed. —Psalm 34:18

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson; copyright 2010Beer and soft drink bottles, cosmetic and medicine jars, tableware, glassware and pottery: great heaps of it get broken and thrown away. Eventually, some of the broken shards end up in the ocean or a large lake and get tossed about by waves and tumbled against sand and rock. And then, over time, what once was trash turns into sea glass.  It takes years of nature’s severe sculpting to transform thrown away, broken glass into lovely, frosted pebbles.

As we might expect, white and green are the colors most easily found by the casual beachcomber. Dark amber and aqua are less common but still readily available to the patient seeker. Pieces of cobalt or red are real finds, and in all my many hours of collecting over the years, I have found only one small sliver of purple. Once I found the tiny arm of a china doll.

Nowadays sea glass is a trendy collectible. Jewelry is made from it and tiles and countertops and all sorts of home design items. A few clever entrepreneurs have even found ways to use it in place of mulch. (An added bonus is that slugs don’t like it.)

Is it possible to imagine, when we are broken, when our grief is sharp and our hearts jagged, that something of beauty will emerge? It’s cheap comfort when grief is new and raw. But whether we approve of this plan or not, it does seem to be the case that suffering refines us, smoothes the rough edges, makes of us something we were not before. This transformation is not inevitable; it requires the daily choice to stay with our pain. Not in a self-punishing way, but bravely and honestly.

Sea glass is sometimes called mermaid’s tears. Perhaps the sea and all the creatures who live there know of our grief. Perhaps the tides are the breath of the sea offering to shore-walkers some of its most magical treasures. Held to the light, a piece of beach glass is luminous. You are becoming luminous too.

O God, make of my crushed spirit a gift to the world. Amen.