I looked out at the sea toward the island of granite, the halfway point separating the 22 miles between Ireland and Scotland.
Then I blinked and I was staring at the ground with the sand and shells beneath my feet.
Among the shells and stones, two glimmers caught my eye. The first glimmer was that of a jellyfish; the second, a frosty white piece of glass. I scooped the second into my hand and ran my pointer finger along the sides. It was completely smooth.
Where did you come from? A bottle tossed in the sea by a couple of kids at midnight, a milk jug thrown off of a ship in a storm.
I walked along the beach and collected these pieces into my Patagonia backpack. An array of colors filled my bag: light and dark greens, deep blues, cloudy white, a brown that dries to purple. Seventeen substantial pieces in all with other fragments tucked in-between. Different pieces, different bottles.
All upon the same salty shore.
Not all of the pieces I touched were smooth. Some had rugged edges, not drowned enough in the waves. Others were rough on the flattened sides, waiting for more time. Holding those pieces in my hand was what gave me the capacity to understand.
I threw them back into the water.
The only way to allow our lives to be smoothed is to allow time to be soothed by the waves.
I am a tyrant when it comes to having compassion for myself.
There are many times I face-plant into the water and climb back into the boat in the same location time and time again because I want to change my ways the instant my face hits the water.
There are even more times I dive in and swim straight to shore thinking my own strength in the water is enough to refine me.
I missed the instruction that the only way to make it to shore smoothly is to belly-flop and float. Give changes time to gain momentum.
I’ll barely make it by jumping in at the same place I first began, and I’ll never make it trying to swim.
I threw the unfinished pieces back. The path of the glass diving back into the sea bounced a thread of compassion into my palm, up my arm, and into my heart.
It’s okay to be helpless, I wrote tonight in the front cover of a book on my bookshelf. It’s okay to have compassion, compassion that is for me.
The tumble to shore will neither be graceful nor beautiful, but it will be worth it. Worth it first in the Lord, and second in the changes that are yet to come.