Normally Myrtle Beach is a treasure trove of exquisite shells. The sand is littered with ebony mussels, gold cockles, angel wings, slipper shells, and scotch bonnets. You can even occasionally find the rare lightning whelk, prized because it grows in a counterclockwise direction.
I had found superb shells on my previous visits, and now I was hoping someone might find one of the amazing conches that wash ashore now and then, sometimes all the way from Florida. But there was nothing. It didn't seem that there was one good shell on the entire beach.
People filed back cupping shells that were broken and decrepit, nothing but beat-up relics of the pounding surf. I was very disappointed, but still we brought them to Baba and laid them out on the sand.
Gradually the pile of shells around Baba grew. "They're so worn out," I thought. It never occurred to me until later that something has to be worn out to earn God's deepest regard. One has to fully complete one stage before moving on to the next, and that's probably just as true for the dainty creatures of the sea.
SPREAD MY LOVE, p. 131
2004 © Sufism Reoriented