It’s no secret that my happy place is the beach, preferably one in front of an ocean. Having grown up in south Jersey, many of my fondest memories are of those spent “down the shore.”
Now, it’s where I go to reconnect with my soul. To take a breath. To heal.
It’s where each one of my senses comes alive: the scent of the sea air; the sound of a laughing gull; the sight of the sun sparkling on the curl of each wave; the feel of the velvety sand under my feet.
The taste of freedom.
And whenever I go, I look for treasures along the shore.
This past week, my husband and I carved out a tiny pocket of time for a much-needed escape to the beach. Since the Dragons wanted to stay with Larry while he built a sandcastle (his method of relaxing),
I set out on a treasure hunt.
Sadly, it was hard to see any treasure for the trash that lay before me, entangled in the seaweed that had washed up. My heart hurt as I knelt down to pick up piece after piece.
A wedding balloon that was still swollen with air. (Note: to those who “do”, please “don’t” let your Mylar balloons fly off!)
But then I saw her.
A lone woman. I watched as she bent to scoop something up, then toss it into the water. Over and over. Curious, I approached her. “What are you doing?” I asked.
She uncupped her hand to show me one of the tiny, baby jellyfish that had washed up onto the shore. “They’re going to die if we don’t help them.”
The little jellies didn’t even have their stingers yet. Looking around, I realized how many there were, helpless and scattered along the shore.
So I bent and gently picked one up too, then tossed it back into the frothy waves. (Note: I read afterwards that jelly babies can still sting and/or cause itchy rashes – so exercise caution if you see any of these!)
I was immediately reminded of the parable about the boy who walks along the beach after a storm, picking up the starfish that have washed up on the shore and tossing them back into the ocean. An old man watching says, “There are thousands of starfish and only one of you. How can you make a difference?” And the boy cradles a delicate creature in his hand and says, “I’m making a difference for this one.”
And I knew at that moment, I’d found the treasure I’d been looking for. Because this woman’s kindness was not only making a difference in the lives of those jellies.
She’d made a difference in mine.