Saturday, 8 August 2015

Leaving the shell behind

Leaving your shell behind

I like nature but I wouldn't describe myself as a naturalist. What I love about nature are the colours. I dream in colour. What I love about nature are the  shapes, forms, lines, curves, textures. I like the mystery of nature. I like the awesomeness of it. I like what even the very elements of nature do to the things of nature. I often sit and let my imagination roam through the mind of the Creator of all things natural, how he created everything - so- good!(Genesis 1)

I don't like every about nature, I was talking to a friend recently about seahorses, she said 'well did you know the males are the ones who carry the young?' Then the picture came with the teeny tiny seahorses coming out of the father's tummy! I was grossed out to say the least! I don't know why I was so disturbed by it, but it haunted me for days- crazy huh? But I think I know why now, just now, because of my trip to the beach.

Summer is beach going season, but when you live where others vacation, any day above ground is a beach day. This particular day was Independence day, and Jamaica was officially 53, and the family and I were beaching it up and I wandered upon some shells, and Nature spoke to me.

2 Corinthians 5:17: 'Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things become new.' 

There was once a slimy little created being living in the shell, the fact that the shell was now on the beach, among the stones, simply meant it had died. Probably eaten by its own kind, or a cousins that it shared company with in the sea. The remains of its life carried in by the tide, as evidence that it once lived.

There is a sweet song and dance of hard covering soft, gliding in a symbiotic ballet. Lifting. Protecting. Completing. But what do you do when only hard remains?

Life can play cruel games with our soft parts. The snail, as it grows, knows, it needs its shell to do the same, so it seeks calcium to reinforce itself and builds out and around its hard outer shell; it's instinctively protecting itself.  Humans however, are not snails, for the more we cover our soft parts with hard things, the balance changes; the relationship of hard and soft becomes parasitic and we begin to die. Our humanity shows less, there is no soft to touch the hard of the world, no soft for a people, a child, a husband, a life. What's left is hard beating against hard, everyone being battered by the tide.

The world has become an increasingly hard place, survival of the fittest, the hardest; soft has no place in the harsh realities of a world that requires hard but hard places are never comfortable places to fall. Love is soft. Love suffocates when covered by hard. Love needs a soft place to fall and so do all of us.

Snails sometimes loses its shell, its soft exposed, it becomes vulnerable to predators and the natural elements, it soon dies but as I said before, we are not snails. When we lose our hard, when we leave the hard exterior of hurt, disappointment, hopelessness, pain, betrayal, and sadness behind, we do not die. We live! We become new creatures, our old shells that were washed up by the tide becomes our testimony of God's saving grace and ALL things become new.

 Which brings me to the seahorse, I will take comfort in the fact that a nine year old somewhere in the world still doesn't know that the male seahorse gives birth (and hope that 9 year olds across the world aren't insulted). A male seahorse giving birth seemed unnatural, it didn't make sense; it challenged my intellect (as shoddy as this 'discovery' make it seem), how could a male give birth? but its true and it happens everyday even though it makes no sense to me.

Lay down the shell, let go of the hard and become soft, vulnerable; made no sense to me and frankly, it's a bit scary, but I tried it and it was such a relief when soft touched soft. I'm a work in progress; it isn't a magic bullet but it works.

I took the shells home, they are beautiful to look at, the shape and the colours fascinate me. My hard was taken by the waters that gently caressed my feet as I watched my family having fun on the beach.

What will you do with your shell? I challenge you to lay it down.


  1. Beautiful. What a joy to get to share this place and time with you!

    1. Thanks Deidre, it's an interesting journey