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Susan's  Blog

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Chris's Turtle_edited.jpg

June 8, 2019

Pondering the Curious Nature of Shells

I have been experiencing a lot of situations involving shells lately. That's right -SHELLS. It's no secret that I am thoroughly smitten by sea turtles, since finding Chris's drawing and deciding that this shelled creature perfectly embodies the idea of perseverance in the face of adversity. Turtles, of course, live in shells that protect them from predators and the elements. Their shells are actually the outer visible portion of their entire skeletal system. So really, they are the entire framework for the animal. They provide stability, protection and beauty, so its no wonder they are so well liked. But I have been coming across other types of shells, too, and recently I witnessed something so very profound, and unexplainable that I truly believe it to be "devine".

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Green Sea Turtles at The Cayman Turtle Center - Grand Cayman Island

     Recently one morning I walked upstairs to tend to the kitty litter boxes that I keep in the upstairs bathroom. I don't go upstairs every day. My boys' rooms are upstairs. But sometimes I like to go and sit in their rooms and look at their things. I have painstakingly fixed up Tom's room to be as I thought he would have liked it to be, and as we wanted it to be for him - a clean, safe oasis where he could be away from the people and things that created trouble for him in his life. So, I painted and bought new drapes and a new rug and bedspread, and hung some of his favorite things on the wall, like his Viking Axe, a Celtic Cross, and a framed picture made from his favorite T-Shirt of Odin with the one blue eye. I bought a small shelf on which to put some of his books and things. There are some framed photos of him and his brother, and a little POP figure of Tyrion Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne that I got him for his birthday.

     Tom didn't leave a lot of material things behind. We have gone through everything he had and what isn't out on the shelves or on/in his dresser or closet are in a few boxes that stay on his closet floor. One of the things that's hard to do when you lose a child is throw their belongings away. So there they will stay until there ever comes a need to really deal with them. But the point I want to make is that I am well acquainted with Tom's room and know all of his (and Chris's) belongings.

     Well, on this particular morning, as I prepared to clean the kitty boxes, I passed Tom's room and peeked inside. Lying on the floor just inside the door was....something....what was that? I went in and picked it up. It was a small beautiful spiral shell.

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     I knew I had never seen it before - where did it come from? Adam had been upstairs earlier that morning and had left the house to run an errand. I figured he had found the shell somewhere and placed it in Tom's room for some reason - maybe just to share a gift, or a memory. We used to go to the beach as a family and we all loved to look for shells. Usually we only found broken ones, though. I think this shell is the tip of a larger shell, but I didn't remember seeing it before.

     So, when Adam got home I asked him about it. He said it wasn't there earlier that morning when he looked in Tom's room! OK this was getting weird! I know those of us who have lost someone very close long for  signs from our loved ones from heaven. A lot of people gain comfort from simple signs, like finding pennies and seeing cardinals and butterflies. In the "grief community" these things are thought of as signs from heaven.  I don't know- maybe there is something to it. I am open to the idea of these "signs", but I just want to be sure.

    So I started wondering if it had been on Tom's dresser all along, and maybe I had just forgotten about it?

But Adam had a picture he had taken of Tom's room, including his dresser. There was no shell. Then I remembered, Tom's friend, Rob had visited and stayed in Tom's room a few months ago. Maybe it was his shell, and he had left it, and it was somewhere around and the cats just knocked it over on the floor. So I contacted Rob. It wasn't his either! No one else had been in Tom's room! It was then that I assumed it was a gift from my son! Now, if you are not a believer in such things, I just want to say that I have talked to a lot of people who claim they have had signs from their deceased loved ones, and have found so much comfort in the little signs. Now, you may be inclined to think we believe them to be signs BECAUSE we are yearning for some sense of continued connection to what we have lost. And I get that, but this was a really BIG DEAL - totally unexplainable. The shell just materialized! So, I decided I needed to understand the meaning behind the gift.

     The shell is a spiral, and spirals universally symbolize infinity. There are many spiral shapes found in nature, many being different types of shells. When I look at the shell, it reminds me of a spiral galaxy, or the swirl on a fingerprint, or that beautiful swirl on my baby boys' heads from where all their hair originated.

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     All of the spirals seem to emanate from the center (the source) and spread outward eternally. So it seems to be a good symbol for eternity, which would be a fitting gift from someone seeing eternity first hand! I remember talking to my friend Sonia about it, and she thought it made perfect sense. "Either that or you're supposed to go to the beach!" she mused. Well, it just so happened that we had already planned a trip to the beach on Memorial Day Weekend - just a few weeks away!

     On our first day at the beach we were walking along the shoreline at Isle of Palms, SC. As I ususally do, I was looking down to see what the surf was washing in with each new wave. There were lots of scallop shells, I noticed. Then, as if it were being personally delivered, a wave sent a fully intact welk shell right to my feet! That never happens to me! It is another beautiful spiral.

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     That was really exciting to me! It felt like a confirmation of the gift from Tom -  a confirmation that life is eternal, and that our lives do continue after the death of our bodies. This is the comfort that people find in faith. But it is also evident in the world all around us -from the cyclical nature of all things, to the spirals that originate from one point and continue forever; from the birth and death of stars and galaxies, and to the division and growth of cells that form a living human being. Being alive on this Earth, with all of its unknown mysteries calls us to pay attention to what the "tide" may be bringing to YOUR feet:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,their words to the ends of the world." Psalm 19:1-4

     This was written by the Hebrew King David over 3000 years ago! How eloquently does it describe how we can be learn and understand so much if we pay attentions to what is all around us? I believe in signs. I believe nature speaks the language of its creator if we are willing to hear it. I believe there is a lot more to the truth of the universe than what our tiny minds are able to perceive. And so, my life has entered a new phase - one in which I am actively looking for the signs and synchronicities that can teach me something, either revealing something about myself or about the path I am on. Synchronicities are what is described as "meaningful coincidences". They happen, perhaps, when something in our subconscious is trying to get our conscious brain to pay attention. Or, perhaps they happen when God is trying to tell us something? Which brings me to my next encounter with shells!

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     On our last day in the Charleston, SC area, we decide to go to the pier at Patriots Point to fish. This is the place where Adam had taken Chris fishing a few years back, and he had snagged the little sea turtle! It was a very hot day, and I don't think anyone there was having any luck, but suddenly Adam had a tug at his line! He reeled in another shelled creature - a  beautiful blue crab! As much as I would have liked to have a crab dinner, we admired him for a while, and then tossed him back to freedom. I understand why people who are bad-tempered are described as being "crabby"!  This little guy was MAD - and his claws were more than a little intimidating!

     We had a captive audience of 2 little girls who were thrilled to death to see the crab, and ended up "gluing themselves" to Adam for the remainder of the fishing trip. They "helped" him reel and release the line, and they were so chatty that Adam really couldn't concentrate on fishing anymore! But they were adorable, and we enjoyed their company. Before it was time to go, I had a look inside the gift shop. Among the usual "beach-like" souveneirs,  I saw a basket of metal charms that were in the shapes of different shells. On the back of each one was a little saying. I know it's a little corny, but since I was on the lookout for "all things shells" I think that is why I noticed them and took time to read the little messages, and what I read were treasures for me just at the right time:

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All and all, some pretty good advise for someone who is trying to build a "movement" - wouldn't you say?


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