Posted by: smstrouse | April 16, 2016

Resurrection on Glass Beach


After the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, it became a garbage dump. It remained a dump until the mid 1960s. But Glass Beach on the Pacific coast at Ft. Bragg is now a natural wonder.

I was in Ft. Bragg for a brief r&r this week. Glass Beach, reputed to have the highest concentration of sea glass in the world, seemed like an interesting place to check out.

What did I know about sea glass? Turns out, not much. But I learned a lot about it from the Ft. Bragg “Things to Do” website. Over time, as glass from the dump was broke800px-Glass_Beach_Fort_Bragg_3n up into smaller pieces, it was also slowly polished by the sand as it is rolled around in the surf. The most common colors are greens, browns, and clear white, which came from things like beer and soda bottles. Rare cobalt blue, the sapphires of the beach (I didn’t see any of these)  came from bottles such as Milk of Magnesia and Noxema. Also rare red glass, the rubies of the beach (none of these for me either) startd out as perfume bottles, the tail lights or traffic 12991059_10208152508343737_5030843985465295905_nlight lenses.

All this was very interesting, but the best thing was  spending an enchanted hour sitting on the beach sifting through tiny stones, shell pieces and glass. Collecting is discouraged, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t take some souvenirs home with me. Then I had an idea; I would create an altar with the best pieces I found, along with some shells and other interesting finds.

Being at the ocean is already a spiritual experience for me, so this added dimension was an exercise in wonder and gratitude.

But it was also a story of resurrection transformation. Even being cast onto a garbage heap (or being crucified in one) doesn’t mean the end of the beauty of life. How many times have I been like a shard of glass, with my sharp edges and cutting words? How many times have I felt tossed and tumbled in the sea of life, going under for the umpteenth time, helpless against the tide? Like an old beer bottle, I’ve had my moments of feeling tossed aside, broken and useless.

And yet, out of the water, through no effort on its part, the beer bottle emerges as a polished gem. Humility keeps me from claiming that I’m either polished or a gem. But isn’t that what we claim to be in the eyes of the Holy One? Beloved. Beautiful. Transformed. Precious. Loved. Polished gems. Wave_polished_glass_fragments_from_Guantanamos_Glass_Beach

Can I keep this resurrection experience in my heart to remember in my next time of feeling “down in the dumps”? I hope so. But even if I don’t, I’m sure that there will be other moments like this visit to Glass Beach to remind me.

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