Sea Shells

Tsaarsbank is a clump of rocks at the end of the road in the beautiful West Coast National Park. As it is with the sea around Africa, the waves are rough and they crash and roll and thunder and toss and churn and just when you wonder why you are so drawn to it, they quiet down and they become gentle and calm and peaceful. It is this same beautiful sea around Africa that is not to be trusted for it is full of surprises and full of secrets, yet is as sure as the seasons and as predictable as the cycles of the moon. Of all the things which capture the spirit of my country and my people, it is this huge blue-green ocean.

When the tide moves out the beach becomes an endless stretch of quiet, only the glimpses of one or two seal pups breaking the silence.   This is when one finds a comfortable spot on a high rock, perfect to sit on and just drink in the peace and the endless horizon. The rocks unveil their secrets and the rock pools surface, yielding the bounty of the ocean in the shells which came with the tide.

There is nothing that can be compared to the character of sea shells. Some are perfect but mostly they are just like us. They have pieces chipped away by the tides, some arrive on the beach more broken than whole, others have unexpected colours and yet others only reveal their beauty only when they are held back under the water, there where they belong. We have to really look to pick the one we want for the shapes and sizes and colours and images are so magnificently varied. While some of us see nothing more than the ordinary in the humble sea shell, others adore it, revere it and have used it in buildings, art and expressions of religion and culture. 

Sea shells are a reminder that, just like the ocean, there are Tides in Life. They are given to us to remember that there is a constant movement in Life, that there are cycles within us exactly as there are cycles in nature. They are a symbolic reminder of the diversity found in all Life, a life which swells and ebbs, thrives and then moves gently back.

When we hold Sea Shells in our hands, we know that Life is not always the same, that sometimes we get crashed on the rocks and hit by the tidal waves but other times we move smoothly along and Life is good. We know that it is as necessary to move forward as it is to hold back at times and that we need to learn to ride the waves as they come. If we do not experience the tides of life we cannot experience the fullness of it and we cannot recognise abundance for we cannot distinguish between pain and joy. If we learn to live with the tides, we get to recognise our own cycles and our own strengths, learning when to push forward and when to take it easy. With a shell in our hands we know that we never have any guarantees for when Life washes us out on the beach but when it happens, we have to deal with it and not pretend it did not happen.

Sea shells are Life’s gentle gifts, gifts we recognise as the prosperity and fertility given by the ocean as a blessing so we do not see the crashing of waves as a curse. Sea Shells are the gifts of fertility and abundance, a promise that we do not have to get crushed by the waves but that we can remain strong and remain a thing of beauty. After all, it is in the humble Sea Shell that a Precious Pearl is found. 

Peace be with us all, today and always. By Annalie

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