Excerpt from Broken Shells
[My son, Will, and I] walk along the edge of the water at the beach almost daily during the summer months, looking for seashells to fill our red sandcastle-shaped bucket. On this particular day, I peered into the bucket and saw nothing but broken shells. “Will,” I said, “all of these shells are broken. They’re no good. You need to find shells like this,” I continued as I held up a perfectly shaped clam shell.
I continued my search for some time, and then saw him drop more broken shells into the bucket. Again I stopped, but this time I asked in a more stern voice, “Will, why do you insist on filling our bucket with shells that are broken?” He looked up at me through his glasses with his big blue eyes and replied, “Mom, these shells are broken, but they are still beautiful.”
Just then he reached his little hand into the bucket and pulled out a shell. “This one is broken, but look, it has purple on it. Mom, none of your shells have purple on them,” he said with such pride.
“You’re right, Will,” I agreed.
“And, Mom, this one looks like a smile when you hold it this way. It reminds me of a clown.” He reached for another shell. “This one is round like the sun, and these ones are stuck together like butterfly wings.”
My eyes filled with tears as I realized my son was teaching me a most valuable lesson. I reached my hand into the bucket and began to take out the few perfect shells I had collected and laid them back on the beach. Will and I continued to walk, collecting only broken shells in our bucket and admiring their unique beauty.
When we arrived back at our beach home, we proudly displayed our “broken shell garden” next to our patio. It is a constant reminder of how none of us are perfect. We are all broken in some way, but we still possess a beauty and uniqueness all our own. We all have something to offer.