Tuesday, June 17, 2008

She loves the broken ones

Eliza’s favorite thing to do at the beach is to collect shells. I think that it’s the introvert in her, which loves to just be alone, wandering nearby the action, seeing what she can find. She brought home several freezer ziplocks, full of shells, most of which were not the typical “put on display” variety. Most of them were broken, missing huge chunks. Not the kind that I would pick up and keep; I like my shells to be well-shaped, un-mussed by the tide (kind of the way I like my life to work, too). When I asked Eliza why she liked to pick up broken shells, she really surprised me. She said, “I like them better because they have interesting shapes. They have all sorts of cool shapes and colors.”

The very thing that I thought made the shells unattractive is what draws Eliza to pick them up. In brokenness she sees beauty. What a contrast to how I usually view brokenness. Brokenness is something to be left “on the beach,” hidden from the critical eye of the world.

But my experience in life, thankfully, is that brokenness is what endears my friends to me and me to them. When I see the frailties of my own life, and when others allow me to see theirs, we become more real, not versions dressed up for display.

I hope that Eliza extends her love of brokenness from the shells on the beach to the people that she encounters in life, that she finds them interesting and beautiful not in spite of their brokenness but because of it.

I went on a walk today and collected some broken shells to show Eliza; I’m learning to see the beauty in them, too.

7 comments:

jonathan smith said...

There are no ordinary moments...all moments are sacred moments, (F. Buechner). And to the collections of endless numbers of broken shells (in ziploc bags), start the tradition of filling up a jar or plastic bottle with grains of sand from each beach you and your family ever walk on, and cut out small labels and write on each one the name of the beach and glue it to a toothpick and stick it in the sand. Our children and their spouses still want us to bring home sand from family vacations, and they have children of their own...

Nan said...

Beautiful. Email us if you want to get together while you are here!

Alex said...

great post, marsh. thanks for sharing this...and for living a life of open-ness about your own brokenness that blesses so many of us!

Matt Hannam said...

holy cow this is beautiful! eliza is so insightful and wise for a four-year-old. thank you, marsh and eliza, for that wonderful reminder of seeing the beauty in all people because we are all broken.

Matt Hannam said...

i'm not matt hannam. i'm jenny letchworth, by the way. (i'm sitting for ollie...but yes, he is asleep, not clanging with his tin can on the bars of his crib to be let out.) :)

runafteryou said...

I just found your blog quite by accident today---your title is beautiful, a thought I'd like to hold on to closely.

I was given a book several months back, My Beautiful Broken Shell by Carol Hamblet Adams. I think you and your Eliza might both enjoy it.

God bless!

Jenny said...

That is precious.