Enjoy this practice as a stand-alone experience or as the third of an eight-day series of blessings inspired by Br. David's book "99 Blessings: An Invitation to Life." We invite you to close your eyes and take one or two slow, deep breaths. Then open your eyes and simply take in this blessing...
SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS,
you bless us with seashells —
those surprisingly appealing
skeletons of once alive creatures,
those never-ending variations on
the theme of imperishable beauty
in perishable form. May I, who put
sea urchins on the palm of my hand
and hold conch shells to my ear, as
I did when I was a child, hear the
roar of a distant ocean and feel the
lightness and fragility of life.
Sense how it feels to honor the beauty, wonder, and lessons of seashells. When we allow ourselves to be with, and contemplate, the fragility and tenacity of life it can quickly refine our experience of this moment and its precious, myriad possibilities.
“May this patchwork quilt of blessings help to sharpen your taste for the gift of life in its innumerable facets,” Br. David writes. “May you grow ever more blessed, ever more able to bless.”
Should you be inspired, please leave a reflection below…
Explore the full eight-day Summer Blessings: Practice Series I.
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The paradox of knowing life is short, that endings are real breaks my heart open in a good way. I felt it reecntly with my dog, who I know won’t be with me forever, but now, today, so very precious. My dog keeps teaching me lessons I try to bring to my relationships, friends, my spouse. Fleeting, mortal, and so very precious.
I have collected shells most of my life, broken or not broken. Each has its own hidden story, and interesting shape and texture. And a shell is the symbol of Pilgrim on the road to Santiago. These hold a kinship with the depths, most often murky and hidden from view, but sort of an offering at the shore that so much life happens beyond our sight lines. Part of the patchwork, indeed.
Thanks to today’s blessing, seashells were on my mind. Otherwise, I may have missed this story on the radio while I was driving:
“A tiny object no bigger than a 50 cent coin has inspired Aboriginal artist Judy Watson to create a monumental sculpture that will stand over six metres (20 ft) on Sydney Harbour.
Bara – real fishhooks fashioned out of shells – have been discovered all around the harbour. They were used on fishing expeditions by Gadigal Aboriginal women, who would dangle the hooks from their canoes. The new artwork will have a shimmering finish inspired by the seashells.
Judy Watson says, “The crescent shape is a beautiful expression of Aboriginal technology. The bara are like a reflection of the moon in the sky, the bays in the harbour, the sails of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. My concept for bara re-imagines ancient gathering spaces where people sat by fires on the headlands and feasted. Bara will provide a quiet space for ceremony, reflection and contemplation in a busy and ever changing city. It will be inspiring and educational, beautiful and transformative.”
The blessing of seashells continues in many forms.
I reflected on Br. David’s words, “those never-ending variations on
the theme of imperishable beauty in perishable form”. They seem to me to mean that the Source of all blessings is offering us beauty in innumerable forms all of the time and everywhere. For example, our eyes, everyone’s eyes are a source of a perishable form of beauty because we all die, and yet others are born and there continue to be the beauty of eyes arising and passing away.
Shells have always attracted me. It’s impossible to walk the beach and not find my gaze drawn to them.. sometimes the larger and more dramatic ones, sometimes the tiny beauties. On the beach I most frequently walk the number and variety of creatures have diminished greatly over the years. There is much fragility to the beach and yet so many forms of life continue to live and thrive there.
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