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Oyster and Hidden Treasures

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As summer comes to its official end, I reflect on a beautiful treasure found by the sea in July.

Sure it’s a treasure from the sea, but it was so much more—something I hold close to my heart.

As we strolled past the store, the doors flung open to my kind of place—where there previously used, the one time loved become repurposed and made new. Where vintage things hold history and the worn professes beauty. 

We met the lovely merchant and curator of many treasured things.

The shopkeeper (with a deep soul and a bright light) and I exchanged some words and laugh about “knowing” neither of us had a simple life. 

There was an immediate connection.

As she was opening the store for the day, she was carrying out small items to set up outside on the sidewalk.

I volunteered my husband’s hands to help her move a heavy piece (there is a metaphor in here) down the steps from inside her shop. The heavy piece and our cross is what connects us even so more today. There is more to the story on this.

His hands are something that always captured my attention since I first rested his in mine. His hands are like oysters- rough on the outside, gentle/smooth on the inside, strong enough to offer security, tender enough to buff a pearl. 

Just as an oyster can take a speck of dirt, sand, stress, or a negative situation and turn it into a triumphant or beautiful little gem, the hands that hold mine is learning to do the same. Together we are finding beauty and turning our struggle into triumph.

When those hands grasp yours, to greet you with a big hello, or carry the world’s weight (or a piece of furniture), you see the pearls it holds wisdom, strength, security, hospitality.

Once the heavy piece was moved from the entrance, I crossed the threshold to discover a collection of plentiful treasures. I instantly knew there was going to be more to this shop visit than met the eye.

More laughs and playful words were exchanged with the creative merchant, who could see treasures among the fields of weathered, worn, and broken.

Inside my eyes, like butterflies in a field of flowers, flit and land from silver vases to white painted frames, from gilded mirrors to weathered oars, and from a dusty anchor to hand-painted signs. 

The list goes on.

It takes a trained eye to see the beauty in the worn where one turns junk into treasure. The Gypsea Lady, she calls herself, opened the door to the shop and her heart and mine; she is given this gift to see, know, and welcome. We built a beautiful relationship ever since as she stayed in touched throughout Jon’s journey. We spoke for an hour catching up just a few nights ago —added 2023

An offer to help, a gift to notice the presence, a collection of oyster shells, and a Momma and her Son overseeing the whole moment in time of digging for treasures buried below the surface.

We had a few moments alone before Then there was a nudge on the heart to exchange a brief glimmer in our life #braincancer #GBM

A Familiar Tale

Floodgates to our eyes open like the shop door that flung open as we strolled by—welcoming us in not just to the shop of vintage treasures but also welcoming to the treasures buried deep within the heart.

The shopkeeper shared her version of an all too familiar story of a dreaded disease—GBM. In sharing a small part of our story, this new friend was called to share tender details of her experience in the last year.

Still raw with grief, she shared some intimate parts of her season and journey alongside a loved one. Her loved one lived mostly unaware (because in this case symptoms sometimes affect memory)

I remind myself of an acronym that brings hope, not fear,—GBM—God Brings Mercy that I shared only days before in a blog post—Tend Your Garden—It’s Been a Year.

She repeated a few times how the weight she carried with this devastating disease. She would say, “I never told him.” 

Then she wiped her tearful eyes. 

I read between the lines. 

I know she wanted to protect her beloved from knowing the monster that was consuming him (and could not be stopped) by allowing him to continue to live with joy and peace in his remaining time.

We both know the gift her loved one had in the “unknowing” (memory loss from brain cancer) all of the circumstances. I know she was relieved she could articulate months of grief she carried in our brief treasure of time standing in her shop.

It’s a familiar battle cry for anyone who is facing a journey where we wonder if time is on our side.

How do you decide to live when you know we can only really live one day at a time.

She protected, cared for, loved, and said goodbye to someone she held dear in a very short amount of time. 

Our paths crossing offered each (Jon, the shopkeeper, and me) consolation when we let one another peek inside the window of hearts.

Her tangible grief became an odd sense of hope. We have since talked about this many times since.

An understanding and compassion became her call for us to keep living in the way we knew best—the way we learned to live—one day at a time.

Our sharing the hard parts of our story, told her she was not alone in the solid, anchored choices she made for her suffering loved one.

Sure, the shop was my kind of store that held treasures and vintage wares, old windows looking from outside in, and stunning detailed mirrors reflecting stories of the past.

But it was so much more.

We left with a few precious treasures—a sphere of oyster shells and two antique candlesticks, a phone number, and a promise to stay in touch because our stories are woven by similar threads.

When we got back to our beach house, we opened the bag. We found our cash and the three items I purchased. I messaged her asking, “Did you mean to not take our payment?” 

Her reply to my text was, “Yes!! Gifts are 😊 happy thoughts… so enjoy.”  

Give the treasure.

Yet, she probably didn’t know the gift she was to me and still is, as she seems to know exactly when I need to hear from her. There is always a consolation when a compassionate ear listens and offers wisdom from someone who has walked a similar path.

The next day, after gathering my treasures by the sea, I sat in awe of how yet again, God leads our steps and where we fix our eyes.

As God of detail would have it, the Gospel of the day would speak of buried treasures and pearls.

Jesus said to his disciples:

The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.

Matthew 13:44-46

I Found a Pearl.

When we dig through the treasures and open our eyes to see and ears to hear, the pearl we find inside the oyster is the people and their hearts. Sure we found a treasure in a sphere of beautifully tied together oysters. 

But, I found a pearl.

The truth is we found a pearl in the kingdom and the faces that reflect a vision of God.

This isn’t the first time I found a hidden treasure beyond what a store offered in its wares.

It has been several weeks since I stepped into that shop by the sea.

Numerous phone calls and consistent exchange of text messages filled with supportive and loving words have been coming my way from this stranger and shopkeeper, who was quickly becoming a friend.

It’s hard not to see God’s Providence in my new treasures—a cluster of oyster shells, a few vintage candles sticks, and a new friend who has offered pearls of wisdom for a time such as this.

What a beautiful example of finding a hidden treasure and someone who becomes our Simon of Cyrene, so to speak. I have been taking a great pause to notice those who have been walking with us and holding the weight of our cross unconditionally.

Last week I put down some words after our most recent appointments and once all the college kids got settled. I have been holding out publishing a post about “Going for a Walk” while walking in hard things. Some things are more vulnerable to share than others. (Updated 2023) That post was published in September 2021 called Go Take a Walk-One Day at a Time. Little did I know how our walks we change after this. October and a Messenger, 9 Months School is Out, Go Take Walk

May I invite you to pray for my wisdom, discernment, courage, and God’s healing hands of peace as I ponder sharing these heartfelt words?

After meeting and talking with this new friend who has walked a similar path and gifted me a few pearls of wisdom, I will find the courage and space to share some words on the subject.

And I am curious if you would share a time when you found a hidden treasure, a cluster of oysters shells, an anchor, or an unexpected stranger who became a friend or a Simon of Cyrene.

Note from 2023. You can find that collection of oysters on a table in my house. You can find the piece Jon happened to move from the porch in our hall bathroom. You can find that friend, the shop keeper, in my regular conversations and messages. She knows the journey I travelled as a caregiver for someone who bravely lived with and died from brain cancer far too young. Love you my friend. God knew what he was doing when you said, “I know you two have a story.” and Then for a moment we cried with a stranger who understood it all.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures here on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

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