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Sea Glass Chronicles: Picking Up Broken People

Hands holding sea glass to show how you can help broken people.

One of the activities I’ve become accustomed to when visiting a cottage on Lake Erie, is walking along the shore with my head down looking for sea glass, otherwise known as beach glass or drift glass.

I find it fascinating so many people spend hours meandering along a beach at a snail’s pace looking for colored pieces of glass washed up on shore.

Initially, I thought the glass pieces were remnants of bottles and glassware broken by visitors and tossed into the waters. But after researching on line, I discovered the pieces I collected could have been afloat for 30 to 40 years, maybe even 100 years.

Each Piece Is Part of a Story

As I fingered each piece of colored glass on a recent stay, I recalled how I also learned the pieces are given polished edges by the currents, and a frosted color by the presence of salt in the water.

Whatever their original story might have been, part of clear glassware, an amber beer bottle, a blue liniment jar, or a black whisky jug from a 18th century sailing ship, each piece was destined to become part of new story thanks to me and others combing the beaches.

They were buffeted and broken by life’s turbulence.

Early one morning, I scanned the horizon of the lake as I recalled meeting people over the years who had been buffeted, broken, and discolored by the turbulent waters of life. The loss of loved ones, job loss, debilitating sickness, extreme poverty, challenging addictions, and the effects of aging take their toll.

Broken Pieces Became Works of Beauty

I also thought about how sea glass collectors and amateurs create new stories for the broken pieces of sea glass, using them to create chandeliers, mirrors, pictures and frames, sculptures, and even greeting cards. All the new creations made from broken bottles, jars, and glassware were made possible because people took the time to stop, sift through the sand, and pick up the glass.

Often Too Busy

It’s easy and understandable to be so wrapped up in our own worlds, rushing here and there, attending to our own problems, that we pass over the broken pieces of humanity that surround us like broken pieces of sea glass on a beach.

It would have been perfectly understandable if the traveler we call the Good Samaritan had breezed on by the injured man alongside the road. He had places to go and things to do. But he stopped, had compassion on the man, bound his wounds, administered oil and wine, and took him to an inn. He even provided for the innkeeper’s care of the man when he left.

The Samaritan Picked Up a Broken Piece

Finally, consider this. The Samaritan stopped and picked up a broken piece of humanity passed over by others, and helped create a new story for a broken soul. He probably would have been a great sea glass collector. How about you?

Additional reading:

Listen to God's Words

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:10-11)

Also read: Proverbs 21:13, Luke 10:25-29, Philippians 2:4

In the Words of Others

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” John Bunyan

"I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” Charles de Lint

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn't about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same -- with charity you give love, so don't just give money but reach out your hand instead.” Mother Teresa

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens

Think About It

  • Describe a time when you had an opportunity to help someone who suffered a loss, was very sick, or fighting an addiction. What did you do?

  • Are you aware of a person who was buffeted, broken and discolored by life, and who survived and flourished with the help of others? If so, reflect on the story.

  • Search the scriptures for another example of a man or a woman who unexpectedly took the time and made the effort to help someone in distress.

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