This Lent we have been focusing on “Noticing God”—in mystical encounters, in the ordinary, in the “still, small voice,” in Christian community, and in creation. Many of you have shared with me ways that you have noticed God around you. Here is one way I have seen God:
I have a conch shell that I picked up on a beach once (in Florida, I think, but I’ve had it so long, I don’t really remember.) Up until I picked up this shell, my collection had consisted of only perfect—or near perfect specimens. No cracks, no broken pieces. Only perfect—or near perfect—beautiful wholeness.
When I first saw this shell, it was half-buried in the sand, so, initially, I thought it might meet my criteria of wholeness and perfection, so I picked it up. As soon as the sand fell away from its surface, I could tell that it was broken. And not just a little broken—it had had lots of cracks and holes in it; big chunks were missing from the top and from one side.
I was about to throw it back onto the sand when I noticed, as I was holding it up, that the sun shone through the cracks and illuminated the beautiful coral color inside—and you could see A LOT more of that lustrous, ripe-cantaloupe color than in any of my other “perfect” shells.
And it suddenly occurred to me that this shell—with its exquisite splendor shining through the cracks—was symbolic of what God does with us. Takes our flaws and our failures—the cracks in the shells of the lives we are trying to control—and shines the Light of Love through them, turning us in to something beautiful.
As we move into the Easter Season, (in the words of our draft Purpose Statement) may we here at First Parish Church, Congregational (UCC) continue to open our hearts and minds to the “Light and Love of God,” that God may transform the broken places in our lives into beautiful, “joyful beacons to our world.” Amen.
Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt