Reflection Masthead
Issue 106 - Seashells - May 2014

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Inner Beauty:
A cross-section of a nautilus shell shows the spiral of chambers, called camerae, that this cephalopod builds for itself as it grows.

* * * * * * *

"One cannot collect
all the beautiful seashells on the beach;
one can collect
only a few,
and they are more beautiful
if they are few."
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


96-Reveal Your Mercies

98-Pilgrim Soul

99-Your Book, Your Verse


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

103-Pretense Free

104-Into Self Into God


Link to all past issues  

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                                Seashell Symbols

          Nestled between the blue Listerine and Multivitamin bottles on our bathroom counter is a collection of mystical seashells. I call them mystical because they invoke, for me, a sense of mystery and fascination. Bill picked them up years ago during a visit to the Coast and I have wondered morning after morning just what attracted him to each particular shell. Did its shape intrigue him or its presence draw him? Did it appear to be a symbol of something known only in his subconscious? A mystery. As I write this, Bill is again at the Coast. Will still more shells call to him?

          Anne Morrow Lindbergh, inspired by shapes and substances of sea shells, in her 1955 classic, Gifts From the Sea,  contemplated life and the meaning of life. For her, Lindbergh's story is written in the very substance of each shell she considered. The shell gave voice to the shape of her life.

          A channeled whelk Lindbergh held in her hand prompted her deep desires: "to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life.... I want, in fact-to borrow from the language from the saints-to live "in grace"....By grace, I mean inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony." 

          Being open to grace allows one to discover and respond to God in ordinary situations like a walking on the beach or considering a seashell. With this understanding of mysticism, German theologian Karl Rahner predicted that "the devout Christian of the future will either be a 'mystic' . . . or will cease to be anything at all." Modern mystics frequently stroll the Coast and notice ordinary but fascinating seashells.                               ---by Jan 



Scattered like ghostly petals, like

cards dropped by some clumsy shuffler,

deposited by time and drift

and death, seashells lie jumbled,

tumbled, one upon another:

Mussel, clam, and tiny scallop,

intricate carvings of life -

Are any two alike? Or are they,

like snowflakes, individuated -

unique compositions of line and hue -

some polished pearlescent

by waves, some shattered

by the same soft water?


Here, beside the bay

these drifted shells are the beach.

I crunch across

the litter of life,

Seashells on beach striding upon death

and beauty



- Bill

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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries