For much of this past week, and keeping me entertained on that ride I have been listening to Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. The story takes place in the early 19th century in England and revolves around a young girl named Mary. She belongs to a poor family and has a gift for finding fossils along the edge of the ocean and in amidst the cliffs above. These finds that she calls “curies” are a source of income for the family.
As the story develops she unearths what is initially identified as a crocodile. This is my paraphrase of one part of the book… It didn’t look like a crocodile – the eye was too big, the jaw too smooth, the teeth too evenly sized. Could it be a species we are not aware of? What was it? Could it be the remains of some creature that no longer existed? Mary and her good friend Elizabeth wonder if it’s possible that God did not plan out what he’d do with all the animals he’d created. If God was willing to sit back and let Creatures God had made die out, what did that mean for us? Were we going to die out too?
Our retreat weekend allows for free time on Saturday afternoon. I am regularly in this time called to walk on the beach – and collect shells. With the book fresh in my mind I wondered if I, like Mary, might have “an eye for curies” – in this case not fossils but rather special or meaningful shells. I looked, with an eye and mindset on journeying in faith. The picture here shows those that I collected that afternoon. I’m not confident that my identifications are wholly accurate….
* The all white scallop, if you look closely, has a first and second growing edge. It looks like it grew to a point and then took up again. A faith journey is like that.
* The muscle shell with its colorful blue hues reminded me that our journey in faith is sometime influenced by someone who brings color or surprise into our walk.
* The snail-like shell standing alone reminds us of just that – sometimes we have to go it alone.
* Then again, like the snail which seemingly is hitching a ride on a scallop, we often times have companions along the way.
* The small luminescent white shells – which may be “jingles” – reminded me that there are moments of light, both visually and physically, as we journey.
* The variegated scallop is a good reminder that there are times of both light and dark in any experience in our walk.
* And what I thought were mini conches but may indeed be whelks, are a) my favorite and b) imperfect – both have holes or broken parts, reminding me that like them, I too am not perfect, and so too, neither will my journey be.
* Ah, and there is one more shell, I do not know what it belonged to, perhaps some variety of clam. It sits to the right of the variegated scallop shell, and is shaped like a comma. I picked it because the United Church of Christ, the denomination I belong to has adopted the symbol of a comma to remind us that God is still speaking, - not yet done with us or the world, or our understanding of it.
Next time you’re at the beach – or on a path in the woods or walking around a lake or just hiking down town to pick up some milk, see what “curies” you find, and wonder about what they might have to tell you. Happy journeying…
(I also added three photos to the photo page from the weekend - buttercups, a rosa rugosa, and swan view!)