Shell Alive!

March 10th, 2024 by Carl Buffington

Shall We Shell?

Tween Waters

My wife Barb is an avid sheller and gifted shell finder. I'm her assistant. Of course, Sanibel is notorious for its shells, but then, we are not in the shell hot zone of Sanibel. 

We stay at a place called ''Tween Waters. It's between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. 

That's' not to say the shelling there isn't good. It is...just not as good.

 Not to grumble, but we have oodles of glass containers, even a rather large one shaped like a fish, all around our home filled with seashells. We even have framed shells on our walls, along with prints of shells framed on the walls.

We are beach people.  

Today, the last day of our five-day vacation together, we walked and talked about how shells remind us of just how great our Creator is.

I mean, He not only knows each and every shell but all the grains of sand! Mind-bending!

And here we are just looking for the mostly whole shells, the ones that look good.

Whereas, He looks at them all, no matter how broken and beat up they are. Shelling with our ABBA is humbling but fun, too.


How We Shell

Even with all our collections—I have no idea how many shells we have collected—I think we fall into the amateur category of shellers. 

Others, the more professional you could say, get up early to beat others to search the morning cache (or would you say a wash)? 

The folks who are really into it also have fancy-looking shell grabbers, similar to a golf club. Some even extend.

I mean, we do have a shell net that we usually leave at home on purpose or by mistake, but theirs look pretty fancy.

They also have lovely collection bags. We use our fingers, stoop, and shove the shells into the pockets of our bathing suits.

We tend to meander down the beach with our heads down. We do look up to greet a passerby and, if we are really lucky, to maybe catch a dolphin display.  

When encountering others, shellers or walkers, it's curious (or not, I suppose) that sometimes people will say a courteous "Hello," but occasionally they will engage in a brief "Don't you love the weather?" sort-of conversation, or a "Where you from?"

Either can be a chat opener and create a blessing moment. I have accepted that even a passing smile is somehow engaging and something to be thankful for.

A Nail-Biting Moment

Here's a wonderful incident. 

We passed a youngish man wearing a red T-shirt with "MDFD" emblazoned on the front. 

As we approached, he just turned his gaze away from us, which seemed intentional. 

I chalked it up to a personality disorder, or maybe he noticed a dolphin display. 

Later, Barb was on a walk, casually shelling, and I was under the umbrella when an obese guy was trying to climb out of the surf.

A steep sandy shelf develops because of the surf. That's a drop-off going in and a steep climb on the way out.

He was not making it coming out. 

I knew how he felt, as I experienced the same frustration just a few minutes before. 

While my belly was no match for his, if I do say so, it was still a slippery slope to climb out.

He was now on all fours. His wife had come to the shore but didn't seem to know how to help him. 

I was in her boat, not having a thought as to what would be helpful, but I felt I needed to try at least. 

As I put my hands on the arms of the beach chair to head his way, the fellow, the fireman with the red MDFD T-shirt that had passed us unacknowledged earlier (so an expert at saving people), was walking toward him. 

Thank you, MDFD! You are saving not only him but me, too, from looking and feeling foolish.

But as our hero drew near, our heavy fellow managed to come ashore. Alleluia! 

Why Look Away?

Anyway, maybe it was just a dolphin display that took MDFD's' gaze earlier. I was willing to be wrong, again.

Sometimes folks like our fireman just look the other way, and we must deal with rejection.

Could it just be simple indifference? After all, we are not part of their world. Maybe they are simply wounded radical introverts?

Broken Shells

Broken Shells Full of Life

You can easily conclude that there are as many or more types of people as there are types of shells. 

I'll bet some—maybe most—serious shellers know the names of the shells. Barb and I know a few. 

God knows them all, not to mention us, the more broken and the less broken.

Barb and I tend to collect primarily whole shells. Sometimes, we pick one up and find its missing half on its other side. We toss it back. 

But here's the thing about us and shells: we are all broken. 

I would say that every shell is broken unless it has something living inside it. 

A couple of times, we brought shells home and, in the morning, found some missing.

They literally walked off.  Alert! Shell Alive! 

We find them on the floor, or in the sink, and one time in the disposal. We always, and as quickly as possible, return them to the sea.

As I said, we are all broken. And being broken is essential. 

It's in our brokenness that our Lord's light and life come into us.

Then, like the shells, we have life living in us. 

We have someone living inside of us. 

Jesus/Holy Spirit comes into our shell and redeems our brokenness, so God now sees us as whole. He stoops down and scoops us up—no net grabber, just ABBA's hand. 

Alert! Person Alive!

We now have new life living in us, in our shells. We are made whole in Jesus by His Spirit! A miracle? Yes, and Amen! Thank you, Lord!

Does this story resonate with you?

Let me know in the comments below!

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About this author:

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington is a bishop in Anglican Mission International (AMI). He has been in ministry for over forty years. He lives in Florida with his wife Barb and their lively golden retriever, Sammy.

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