Sunday, 18 September 2016

A Shore Thing...

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said "one cannot collect all the shells on the beach-one can only collect a few."This is true  - but how lovely to bring a few back from a lovely family outing to Southbourne. They are in a bowl on the table, where I can feel their shapes and look at their colours.
They are in Liz's old Peter Rabbit dish - I cannot use it for food anymore, as it appears to have got cracked when we moved house, but it is just the right size to display last Sunday's collection. I found two useful identification guides to British shells here and here

When we were young, people told us to hold a whelk or conch shell to our ear and listen to the sound of the oceans. It was such fun, imagining where that shell had come from, what distances it may have travelled. Here's 'Seashell' by G L Lindsay
I stopped and picked it up: a little curled seashell,
Warm to a gentle touch; light to an open palm.
There was a ghost of a whisper silent, begging
To be heard – and I smiled, for I knew its secret
It carried the ocean within it; in it; breathing
A storm from far away, or the lap of a tide
From an early morning, grey, misty, and silent
I held it up to hear its own little story
The soft memories that came from long ago and
How they were carried in its small heart for so long
It whispered the story to my heart, and I put
The little seashell back on the sandy shoreline
And although every shell sounds the same, remember
That each remembers its own story, once upon
A long, long ago time
And carries it in its heart, and whispers it out
Like the tides of the sea
Then cynical people tried to destroy the magic by saying what we were listening to was simply the blood flow round our ears. Now scientists have done some more physics, and realise what we hear is the echo of the noise in the air around us. They call this ambient noise. The seashell captures the ambient noise, which then resonates inside the shell. I am OK with that explanation. Not the distant oceans, not the pulses in my head - but a distillation of the noises all around me, whether I am on the shore, or in my home.
Our world is a busy, noisy place, and sometimes it is good to stand back and just listen quietly, letting those gentler sounds come through. In the midst of a society where so many are clamouring to be heard, and get their point across, there is also the voice of God speaking to us, telling us He cares, He loves us, and we are worth something to Him. 
An extract from Wordsworth's 'The Sea Shell'
Even in such a shell the Universe itself 
Is to the ear of Faith: and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart 
Authentic tidings of invisible things; 
Of ebb and flow and ever-during power; 
And central peace, subsisting at the heart 
Of endless agitation
The still, small voice of Calm. Even the winds and waves obey Him. 


  1. I'd not read that poem before but I think it's beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you for sharing the poem with us. Your seashells look lovely in that special dish. I lived by the seaside for several years, when I was growing up and collecting seashells was a hobby.


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