When I was in Florida last week, my sister-in-law and my niece and I gathered shells on the beach. The ones we picked were little scallop shells that sea mollusks had piecered a little hole at the top. My niece and I intended to make wind chimes with them by stringing them together with fishing line. Yesterday, I sat out on the patio and did just that.
It was a miserably hot and humid day, the kind that takes your breath away once you step out of the air conditioning. I sat under the umbrella, listened to soft music, and strung my little shells. The solitary activity gave me time to think, and my thinking usually wanders into the realm of “I wish…” I wish we lived closer to the kids, I wish we had enough money so we could hop on a plane anytime we wanted to see family and friends, I wish we could win the lottery so we could pay off all our children’s school loans, I wish, I wish, I wish…
As I was about to enter that realm once again, I looked up and read my little garden sign I had just purchased the week before. It said, “Today I planted gratitude, and grace began to grow.” I laughed at myself, and instead of thinking about the things I didn’t have, I thought about the things I did have, and each thought was a blessing. With each shell I strung, I thought of something else I was thankful for. Though we don’t live as close to the children as I would like, we live so much closer than we used to and can see them more. I now live close to my brother and his family and get to enjoy his first grandchild. I live near the ocean once again, something I longed for all the years I was away from it. And the list went on and on.
This week the husband of one of my dear friends died, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, in the midst of an outing with friends and family. It made me aware in a real way that we really do not know what is going on in our bodies, and the first symptom that something is wrong could be the one that kills us. It reminded my husband and me that we need to treasure every moment together because we don’t know how many of those moments we have left. Our relationship is one of the sweetest blessings we have.
I did not have quite enough shells to make a real wind chime. I will need another trip to Florida for that. But my strings of shells do dance in the wind, so the visual is just as good as the aural would have been. Now, whenever I wander in my garden or see the garden from my kitchen table, I will see my cascade of shells and remember all my many blessings.
Today would have been my sister Karen’s 57th birthday. This post is for you, Karen. Your memory is a blessing.