Who knew that a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina to escape the frigid Indiana temperatures in December and relax for a few days would eventually enhance my perception of spirituality?
Seventy degrees and windy doesn’t seem very warm when you’re walking along the beach, but much better than the three degrees we would be experiencing back home…
and I was determined at the very least to get my feet wet.
Seagulls soaring over head would occasionally glide down in search of someone’s carelessly scattered leftovers, I spotted one floating in the water and tried to get close enough to take a picture. I heard my wife laughing and it dawned on me how silly I must look crouched down in the cold water with my jeans rolled up to my knees trying to take a picture of a bird.
I snapped a shot anyway.
My wife, Amy, and I had been walking much of the day… mainly due to my wonderful sense of direction. I wanted to walk to the beach a different way.
Let’s just say we saw almost every part of Charleston that day. The great historic homes, the early American architecture; then, there was the stench of the retention pond we walked past.
That, along with two straight hours of randomly wandering, helped me realize we should maybe try another route.
So anyway, now we’re on the beach, barefoot… and rather cold.
With the great success I had experienced choosing our direction of travel to this point, I did what any grown man would do. I took a deep breath, turned to my wife and said…
“Which way do you want to go?”
She looked at me and smiled one of those smiles that every married man has seen from his wife at some point (one that I see quite frequently). A smile that leads you to the conclusion that in her mind she is thinking “Ha, he is finally admitting he’s wrong.” Then, she shrugged her shoulders
“I don’t care.”
I just stood there for a minute and in my mind thought “’I don’t care????’ Oh man!! She’s tricking me!” So I pointed in the least crowded direction and we began to walk.
“We need to take some of these back for Aly,” and with that Amy knelt down to pick up a few shells on the beach.
My five year old daughter, Aly, has a fascination with sea shells.
I know what you’re thinking right now… “Awwww, that’s cute… what does it have to do with spirituality in any way whatsoever????”
Okay, I’ll skip forward… this is about as long as my attention span can focus anyway.
On our trip back to The Elliott House Inn (the bed and breakfast where we were staying) for some reason every person that I passed, the phrase “empty shell” kept resounding in my mind.
This leads me to the reason for writing what you are reading…
Shells lying on the beach are no more than the skeletons of dead organisms. Beings that once were filled with life and thrived in the water, are now nothing more than an empty shell getting thrown around by the waves until it eventually settles in the sand (or my daughter’s collecting box).
Many times in our spiritual life we feel ups and downs, sometimes we thrive… sometimes we fail.
Whatever stage you are currently experiencing in your life, it is always healthy to explore the spiritual emptiness that many of us experience in a real and maybe uncomfortable manner… and ask God to fill this empty shell.