The treasures of our lives

Determining what interests most of our friends and relatives would be a fun thing in my opinion. I’d like to know what these people I love and admire value and put stock in these days. With all of the commentary and writing about the banking industry and the loss of funds, changes in savings plans, retirement benefits, and the constant drain on our wallets, have we changed our perspective, or are we still all about making that next dollar? Knowing we have to survive and pay our bills, I am not taking lightly that these many changes affect me and my family, but if I thought about it all of the time, I would lose my sanity.

I need the beauty of a quiet walk on the Gulf Coast, a quickly planned fishing trip to the bright, clear water of either the bay, the canal, or the open sea, and some time to regroup from the cares of this world. Thank God, our basic needs are met, and we are not hungry, or cold, or ill today. We have family and friends surrounding us with love and, therefore, we are truly among the most blessed.

One of the things we get to do here on the Bolivar Peninsula is search for treasures almost any time we want to. I have long ago learned that there is so much beauty just waiting to be discovered and I am just as excited as the grandkids or visitors to hit the beaches in search of the finds of the day. Ted and I gathered each of the shells in the photograph here and I carefully washed the sand out of each, placed them on a towel to dry, and put them into the current heap. We keep a big supply of plastic bags for the boys and girls (and often, the adults, too) who want to look for shells with us.

The fascinating thing is that each one is different — just like human beings. There was a time in my life when I wanted only to find the “perfect” ones, those without noticeable flaws, broken edges or discolored marks. Having grown a bit older, I find I am more generous and I want to keep them all. I think each “flaw” has a story to tell about that particular shell’s journey, where it came from, what lived inside the house it provided, and perhaps how it got where it is today. I’ve found that seashells come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, colors, weights and markings. Again — kind of like people, if you think about it carefully. I can honestly write today that perhaps the broken or damaged ones may attract me more. Their stories are fuller, deeper, broader, more intriguing to me.

When my son Brent was a very young man, he bought me a copy of a book, which I treasured. It was “A Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who was the daughter of a respected U.S. diplomat. She was thrust into the spotlight of life by her marriage to aviator Charles Lindbergh. The couple’s travels in the very early days of globe-trotting aviation drew breathless and often sharp attention from the media. Her world was thrown into greater turmoil with the 1932 kidnapping and murder of her first-born son, whose body was discovered near their New Jersey home. The murder was termed “the crime of the century” and drew worldwide attention. Amidst constant speculation about her husband’s activities in aviation, Anne Lindbergh found solace on the beaches of Florida’s Captiva Island.

It was there that the writer found peace and quiet, and inspiration to go on with her life. She died in 2001, but her work lives on today. After having studied her life and reading her story, I found her words about the sea more impressive. “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient,” Lindbergh wrote. “To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but a lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.”

Almost every day when we walk our beaches, looking for and expecting a new treasure to appear, I think of my many gifts from the sea. There are few greater riches in my life.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.