Navarre Beach, Sand Dollars, Sea Shells

More Lessons from the Beach

In Monday’s post on Arkansas Women Bloggers, I told you how my carelessness crushed a perfect little sand dollar and about the lessons I learned from its loss. I promised to share a few more insights today.

If the sand dollar is a metaphor for meaningful experiences, I’m sure there are more special moments in our weeks than there are sand biscuits on the shore. The problem comes when we get so busy with other seemingly important things that we miss them.

 Here are just a few everyday moments for you to consider.

  •  A father adjusts his pace to his son’s wobbling progress after removing training wheels from his bike. He could have gotten in a good run, but instead he was there for the victorious ride down the sidewalk.
  • A harried mother stops to really listen to her child’s discovery or to answer her preteen’s question even though she has lessons to plan. She knows what her child is thinking.
  • A woman says yes to lunch with a friend who’s adjusting to living alone for the first time in her life. She could have lazed around and finished that book. Instead she’s rewarded with a new depth in their relationship.

One perk of retirement is the luxury of more time to take note of the beauty around us. My friend Debbie Hoofman stops on country roads to snap pictures of wildflowers and shares them on Facebook. She could rush by on a mission to finish her errands or not bother to post the pictures, but because she does, everyone’s blood pressure probably drops a few points.

In March we met the couple who rents the condo next door for a couple of months each winter. When they invited us in to visit, I noticed a pile of tiny white sand dollars lying on her kitchen counter. I asked if she had found them on the beach. She told me she had, adding that lots were washing in with the tide, but you had to go out early to find them.

Was I envious? You bet! But only for a moment, because by that time, I understood that if she had given me one or a dozen, they would still have been hers, not mine. I had already made up my mind to be content with the memory of the day I found that one perfect sand dollar and to remember the lessons I had learned.

 Last week, just two days after I posted The Elusive Sand Dollar, I found a partial coin that was no larger than the end of my thumb. This time, I was careful as I retrieved it and placed it in a larger shell. However, later when I tried to move it to another spot, it broke into three pieces. That little sand biscuit was so fragile it couldn’t stand up to being held.

That reality check led me to consider that perhaps some of God’s blessings are simply meant to be enjoyed in the moment. When we try to grasp them, we cause more harm than good.

Isn’t that the case with our children? We can savor the firsts in their lives, but we would never expect  them to remain there. Instead we hide those memories in our hearts to be recalled whenever we like. That’s how I view my sand dollar finds now. The experience of coming upon them is a blessing.

Sacred moments steal upon us, but it is always our choice whether we stop and truly enjoy them. My prayer is that you and I will always choose to stop, my friend. 

 …“you are anxious and troubled about many things, 
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, 
which will not be taken away from her.”  
Luke 10:41-42

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved

Devotional, Navarre Beach, Sand Dollars

The Elusive Sand Dollar

This post originally appeared on Arkansas Women Bloggers website. 

The purple and white fragments were originally an tiny sand dollar
that crumbled into pieces in the palm of my hand.

Today is Terry’s and my 40thwedding anniversary. We’re spending it at our favorite place, Navarre Beach, Florida. As I look back over all the years our family has come to the panhandle, it’s the small pleasures like early morning walks and watching the children play in the surf that come to mind.

I usually return from my treks with several small shells in hand. I’m told the big ones end up on sandbars farther out from shore. However, one summer, people were finding an abundance of shells, large and small. Inspired by a showy collection a man had excavated from an embankment nearby, I sought out the spot to hunt for my own buried treasure. My digging turned up lots of interesting and less common specimens, but none as nice as his. I was hopeful though, and each day, I continued my search.
Tidal Pool Treasures on Navarre Beach

One morning, I stopped by a tidal pool lying directly behind our condo where I spied a small white sand dollar, glinting in the sun. The tiny orb was no larger than a quarter and flawless. A Keeper. But where to stash it? I had no pocket, and it would take ten minutes to carry it back to the condo. Ten minutes I didn’t want to burn because I had bigger things on my mind. So I dropped that perfect little sand dollar into my plastic Winn Dixie bag and continued down the beach, intent on scoring one of those big conchs. While I found some interesting medium-sized shells and added them to my sack, once again, the Big One eluded me.
To give you an idea of its size
Hot and tired, I trudged back home where I rinsed the shells, one by one. When I reached the bottom of the bag, there was no sand dollar in sight. Perhaps it was caught in a fold of the sack. When I turned the bag inside out to look, a shower of tiny granules littered the counter. My perfect little sand dollar had been crushed by all the mediocre shells I had piled on top of it. It was gone. I was crushed—and dogged by if-only thoughts. If only I’d worn shorts with pockets. If only I’d carried it back to the condo. Ten minutes didn’t seem so long, retrospectively. Every morning, I returned to the tidal pool, hoping for another prize, but to my disappointment, none appeared.
That incident happened at least four years ago, and I must admit, I’ve been searching for that elusive sand dollar ever since. Along the way, I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on my experience. Although I was surprised at the depth of my grief, I knew it reflected how foolish I felt for not appreciating and protecting that perfect little gift—which brings me to the point of this confession.

Sometimes a seemingly small but special moment or opportunity surprises us in the midst of important-feeling pursuits. When that happens, we need to recognize it and cherish the moment or pursue the opportunity because it is precious and perhaps, singular.

This year, I’ve resolved to give up my search for a replacement to that prize. Instead I’m attempting to be grateful for every little offering I encounter on the beach. My prayer has become that I’ll recognize each small blessing and when necessary, change my plans so I can truly savor the moment. I’ve learned the hard way that once it’s gone, there are no guarantees it will ever come again.

I wanted to show you how lovely that little sand dollar was, so today I purchased several at a shell store for 29 cents apiece. Twenty-nine cents—I could have bought a bowlful, but I didn’t. For how could they compare to the priceless experience of discovering that one perfect little sand dollar? But I’m not sad anymore because I learned a valuable lesson from my folly. And it’s past time for me to move on so I won’t miss the next blessing that’s sure to come along. Plus, I’m an optimist, and you never know when another little creature might wash up with the tide.  
Today, I wish you many Perfect-Sand-Dollar Moments. They are precious. Handle them with care.
Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin…
Zech. 4:10 (LB)

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved