Not Your Ordinary Sand Castle
By Joyce Shafer
Morning stretched itself awake as I made my way down to the shore and joined the handful of early risers. Lacy edges of waves lapped gently over my feet and I scrunched my toes in warm sand. Good time to build a sand castle. It was modest, done mostly for relaxation and meditation, not something anyone would pause to admire. After I finished the basic shape, I began to decorate it with shells. A boy about eight years old walked up and began to kick at the castle. I wondered what was in his mind for him to do such a thing.
What happened next happened quickly. I held out my hand filled with shells and said, “Here, help me put these on.” He stopped kicking, looked at me, then took the shells and began to place them on the castle. We decorated in comfortable silence. “I’m out of shells,” he said after several minutes. “Get more,” I replied. He did, giving some to me. After a while, another little boy came along and started to kick the castle. My assistant started to fight him. I said, “Give him some shells.” The new boy worked with us for a couple of minutes then left.
When the entire exterior was covered in shells, we stepped back to look at our work. “We did a good job,” I said, “Thank you.” His eyes met mine then turned to the castle and said it was time for him to go. I watched as he walked away and wondered how long our creation would remain intact then went inside. The next morning, I found the shell-adorned castle still there. It was evident that only nature had touched it with its tide.
The boy must have been surprised when I extended my hand to him rather than yell at him to stop kicking or react more aggressively. He chose to invest time and energy into his ornamental efforts then felt a need to protect the creation when someone sought to destroy it. Perhaps in human consciousness, Investment equals Connection. How different life might be if we assumed our connection first. Investment in each other and our world would be automatic.
If we don’t feel or perceive our connection to something or someone, it’s easy to either not care about it or them, or to destroy without thought or awareness. I accept what physics reveals to us: All in existence is comprised of the same energy that is everywhere in the universe. The only separation is, ultimately, in our minds. Quantum physics reveals that after we peel away all layers of manifestation, absolutely nothing is there, nothing but the shared consciousness in all things and the potential for manifestation. Whether we call that consciousness the Creator or we call it Pudding doesn’t matter. It’s real. It’s who we are. We just haven’t fully grasped that yet.
From time to time, I wonder if the boy remembers that moment, if it had any influence in his life. That moment is still a golden thread in my life’s tapestry. It was a lovely, peaceful solution; an act of loving kindness toward a stranger who would become a momentary friend. When someone gives us a challenge, perhaps we can offer them some “shells.” Every challenge is an opportunity to expand who we are. If we practice peaceful solutions with smaller challenges, we may one day seek to find peaceful ways to deal with the really big ones. And, isn’t that what love would do?