"Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living." Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I was thinking about Anne Morrow Lindbergh today. She is a writer I admire who could look at life and break it down into its simplest, most beautiful form. Of course, one of her most famous works is Gift From the Sea and what brought her to mind were a christening party, a shell, and a simple act of giving.
Our friends' children were baptized at the ages of eight and ten, and a party at their home would celebrate the event. My children helped me to wrap the gifts. I had debated on what to get them. As the children were older, the usual Noah's Ark motif items sold for such occasions didn't fit. And I wasn't convinced that giving toys would be appropriate. So I opted for something useful and practical. Clothes.
As I took special care touching up the gift bags, my daughter carried into the room a small package she had obviously wrapped herself in makeshift paper. She proclaimed it a gift for her friend, Alexandria, with whom she had been close since daycare. Rushing to get us packed up, in the car, and on our way, I hadn't paid much attention to this small package.
We arrived early. Our friends opened their gifts. To my relief, they actually liked the soccer t-shirts and cargo shorts I had picked out.
Just then I saw Alex open the small package. Inside was the oyster shell my daughter had found a few weeks earlier on a southeast Connecticut beach. It had perfect edges, nothing jagged, rich, creamy white coloring, and a smooth texture. Rarely does anyone find a shell so perfect, and my daughter had carried her treasure home that day, carefully wrapping it in her beach towel for protection.
Lindbergh wrote that, "One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few."
As I watched the two girls caressing the shell, holding it gently in their hands, and then carrying it to the bedroom for safe keeping, I knew the priceless gift just exchanged wasn't a shell but friendship. The one perfect shell found on a Connecticut beach on what seemed otherwise an ordinary day became a special gift between two young girls, a moment in time between them that would last a lifetime. Like a perfect shell, the friends we make along life's journey are among the most beautiful treasures we collect, and we are lucky to find them whether they are few or many.