Sunday, November 4, 2007

Gifts from the storm.

I took one step, then another, and stopped short. I am at the beach on Ana Maria Island. I had been to Florida many times; something was different. There was an audible snapping of dozens of shells under my feet with every step. I looked down and the beach was a carpet of gems: weathered, worn, laced with the perfect borings of invaders who drill and devour them - and perfect, untouched shells as well. I parted the sand and sat, cleared another small area for my hand and leaned. With my free hand I discovered and captured a hoard of sweet sea bone to weave onto necklaces, windchimes, wall hangings - they lay there quietly all around like a gift that had been waiting for me ever since the hurricaine two days ago.

I thought about children. I don't know why, perhaps because I'm here with my job and our company tutors children who need help with homework. So many children could be stepped on, tossed aside, ignored - but if you stop, make room, make time, you can find the gems in them - the qualities that make them shine.

Nature has its relentless, unblinking objectivity about the world - what boat is tossed to bits, what animal drowned, what tree struck by lightening, it pays no thought - a storm is innocent of guile. The cycle must go on unbroken - yesterday's sea animals are tomorrow's sand - ground from shell and bone to tiny bits by unrelenting waves. Saving a few shells from their fate of becoming sand was a very natural thing to do. Like picking a flower. Like plating a tree. We effect nature constantly. But, just as I can't possibly find every beautiful shell - I also can't save every child from being broken under the crushing storms of man's inhumanity and greed. All I can do is cherish every child my eyes fall on. Every one I have the opportunity to know and possibility to influence. I know exactly how sappy this sounds - but what can I do? I helplessly love every child I see, anywhere I see it. Sometimes it is a storm that tosses a child onto the radar of someone who cares. Someone who can make a difference.

As the waves beat outside my hotel window now... the world turns, the moon rises, and life goes on - injustice and pain as unending as the constant waves. Beauty and joy as plentiful as a billion shells carpeting the beach after a storm.

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