Diving for Treasure
A flash of color.
Pocketing the lovely pink shell in my wetsuit, I continued our dive.
Not that I had a choice. Jay and I were on a drift dive off the coast of Oahu, flowing rapidly along currents too strong to swim against. I was as proud of my lightning fast reflexes as I was of my shell.
Thus far, the threat of losing a shiny sea treasure and preventing my children's certain harm are the only things to bring the catlike speed out of my otherwise methodical nature.
It wasn't until I returned to the boat that I found out I had something special.
"Do you know what that is?"
"Wow, how did you find one so clean?"
"Look at those colors!"
"I've been diving here my adult life and have never seen one found in such perfect condition."
"Do you know what that shell is worth?"
"Your dive guide takes tips...ahem."
A Sunrise Shell.
As I would soon discover, Sunrise Shells are a rare find historically worn by Hawaiian royalty. Once the small scallops die at their home depth of 300-600ft, they travel by way of tide, current, and storm to be discovered in shallow waters.
During this time, they often become chipped and broken. On top of that, years of calcification creates a thick, sand-colored barrier that covers the beautiful colors of this shell, making it nearly impossible to detect on the sea floor.
I shouldn't have found this shell.
Maybe the recent storm churned it up...but still, it shouldn't have been bright and shiny enough to catch my untrained eye.
Bottom line...God left a treasure for me to find. All I had to do was keep my eyes open.
That, and grab it in a flash as I was being swept along. Easy peasy.
Keeping it Real
I wanted to have this post finished already, but I got good and STUCK. Writer's block already?!
Maybe I need to connect with something besides a keyboard.
I take my Sunrise Shell out of it's box and run my finger over the rough, scalloped edges. Set in specialty silver, the purples, pinks, and golds of the shell pop like the spectacular skies of its namesake.
Holy Spirit gives me a gentle nudge, bringing to mind stories Jesus told about hidden treasure:
"Heaven’s kingdom realm is also like a jewel merchant in search of rare pearls. When he discovered one very precious and exquisite pearl, he immediately gave up all he had in exchange for it.”
(Matthew 13:44-46 TPT)
Jesus came to reveal the Father's heart, and also to bring the Kingdom of God. He talked A LOT about both of those subjects because they are incredibly important to the heart of God.
They are also challenging for the human mind to comprehend.
Take the idea of Kingdom.
Oppressed by Roman occupation, the Jews of that time desired nothing more than to rid themselves of tyrannical rule. Followers of Jesus were convinced that the promised Messiah had come to establish EARTHLY reign.
Imagine the shock, horror, disappointment...even shame...of a King on a cross.
They couldn't imagine a spiritual invasion of Heaven to Earth through such a cruel vehicle as death, and such a divine mystery as resurrection.
So Jesus used the beauty of story to generate remembrance, bringing understanding when their idea of a kingdom was broken and placed in a tomb.
Allegory of a Shell
Pulling myself from my reverie, I slip the chain around my neck and fasten the clasp, inspecting my reflection in the mirror.
"Thanks," I tell Holy Spirit, "for the compliment and for the gift."
I sense, more than hear, the soft chuckle.
I mean, it's really you.
In my mind's eye, I see a shell tumbling in the surf. Then I see my own face reflected in the luster of the shell as it continues to roll.
I feel myself shrink back inwardly. This has the feel of being close to home.
But isn't transparency what I'm pressing into? Why am I finding it so HARD to continue walking the path of vulnerability?
Maybe it's because I'd rather skip ahead.
That's exactly the kind of student I am. Practice? Meh... Process? Overrated. Give me the study guide and 24 hours. Let's get this final exam done and over with!
I hear Julie Andrews' voice in my head from The Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start."
Ok, fine. Here's the truth I'd rather skim over.
Vulnerability starts with being honest with myself.
I am the shell. Be the shell. Be the ball. This feels SO silly, but here I go anyway.
Forgoing my usual journaling exercise, this time I put hand to keyboard. Allegorical words flow forth simultaneously from within and without:
Resigned to the comfort of the known, I accepted my place as one of many coexisting in the dark.
Not alone, yet lonely.
Once desiring the light, I chased fragmented reflections on the seabed. Tired and too long dissatisfied, the complaisance of the Great Dim became my comfort.
Then came the Storm.
Violent torrents, like nothing I had weathered before, resulted in death and loss of all attachments as I was driven into the Unknown.
First I fought the currents, but their vicious pull would not be denied.
Eventually I dared to look up.
At this timely gesture, my gaze fell on an intersection of currents and tides.
One direction churned downward with the enticement of familiarity, though I knew there was no home to return to.
The other was an upward current, jetting along at dizzying speed toward warmth and light that both beckoned and sent apprehension resonating through my being.
The choice was made. There was no turning back.
Though painfully aware of my limited maneuverability, a simple leaning in did the trick. I was onward and upward at dizzying speed.
As I neared the shallows, the storm did not let up.
Heaving. Rolling. Churning.
Layer by layer years of heavy buildup was stripped away as I tumbled end over end.
The storm slowly calmed.
Waves eased and the scene cleared to reveal color and dancing play of light. How lovely it was! How warm and bright.
I said to myself, "This is nice. I’m not what I once was, and I’m exhausted from the storm. But at least I feel lighter and the scenery is lovely. I’ll rest here for a while longer."
A while longer turned out to be less time than I expected, as I was plucked from my reverie.
I found myself in a hand. A kind hand. The hand of the Master Jeweler.
Words reach my ears...soothing, though I don't yet understand their meaning:
"I’ve worked with diamonds and gold. I know a treasure when I see it.
Yes, look at this beauty. She’s a little weathered in some places, but not where it counts. Her inside is spectacular. Look at that color and the way the light reflects off of her. I’ll set her in finest silver and make her a focal point.
She will be my testimony of new beginnings.
She will be my masterpiece."
I know, that I know, that I know... This. One. Thing.
This is not just MY story.
Is it your's? Where are you in this journey?
You may be in the aching empty of lonely, yet not alone. Maybe you are in the worst of the storm, or at a crossroads. Did you take the road back to grasp onto the familiar, or are you currently braving the unknown, praying there is reward for your risk? Has the surf pounded you too many times and you are just longing for a hand to reach out and bring you to a land of promise?
Join me in being honest with yourself. Begin to tell your own story, even if only to yourself.
It's your turn. Write your own allegory. Where is the beauty in your story?
We are in this together and I want to hear from you! Message me, comment, share. Let's make this a conversation, not a monologue.
In Him we live and move and have our being.
*This post is dedicated to the brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard, who put their lives on the line to keep us safe, and to rescue those in need. This was a hard week for the Kodiak community, as some of our own were lost when the crabbing boat, the Scandies Rose, went down at sea. Prayers go out to the family of those lost at sea, as well as gratitude and healing prayers for the two crew members who were rescued. May the God of all comfort be with them.