my oyster

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I was 19 years old when I was given my first copy of Gift from the Sea to read. I took the book home, admired its cute cover and interesting title, and then put it on a shelf where it sat for 4 years. It wasn't until I had my second baby that I picked that book up again. I locked myself in the bathroom to have a bubble bath and read a book. I sat in the tub until my fingers had wrinkled and the water was cold. I did not want to put the book down. It was as if I was reading my thoughts, but in a way that I could never have expressed them. I kept finding myself thinking, "that is exactly how I feel!" This was also the very first day I knew I wanted to write.

10 years later I sit here in front of my computer and I write this blog. 10 years ago I had no idea what a blog was, I hardly even knew how to use a computer. This is not the outlet I had envisioned, and certainly not where I would like my writing to remain, but for now I get to write, and that is what I want to do, forever.

Gift from the Sea still sits upon my bookshelf, but I pick it up more often, and re-read its contents. In particular, the part that spoke straight through to my heart was the chapter entitled "Oyster bed".

"You never find two alike. Each is fitted and formed by its own life and struggle to survive. It is an oyster, with small shells clinging to its humped back. Sprawling and uneven, it has the irregularity of something growing. It looks rather like the house of a big family, pushing out one addition after another to hold its teeming life....It is untidy, spread out in all directions, heavily encrusted with accumulations and, in its living state, firmly embedded on its rock. It suggests the struggle of life itself. The oyster has fought to have that place on the rock to which it clings tenaciously." (Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindberg)

I have never looked upon an oyster shell in the same way. As I go through my life, somedays wishing for a fancier shell, not in the way of houses, or clothes, or possessions, but a more accomplished me, I am brought back to the vision of the oyster.

The difference between the life I had pictured and the life I actually live, is in the eye of the beholder. I can see past the crudeness of the oyster's shell, and into the middle. In that oyster, in the mess of family life, in the chaos of many children, in the attempt to cling on to what is most important and let other matters go, a great work is being done. I can view my oyster shell with different eyes, and love its bumps and imperfections. The world may not beholds its beauty, but that is because the work and the beauty is being done in a quiet, simple, day by day way - on the inside. It isn't until much later, when all the hard work is done that the reward is complete. This is my offering, not my shell, but the pearl that has grown safe, deep within. This is my gift.

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