Beach Offering: Midsummer, Columbia River

Shells, petals, claws, and stones arranged in a rainbow-based pattern on a grey-sand beach.

Cool summer morning. A little rain, like a graceful cascade of harp-notes, now and then.

A grey sand beach: inland-ish, upstream from the great river’s teeth, still entirely tidal.

A rainbow of life’s leftovers: paired clamshells (including one smaller than my pinkie nail, stained gorgeously purple); crab claws, blue and red; a delicate yellow-green snail shell; half of a clam, welling with light in clear and pearly green; a single soft petal from a Nootka rose.

I thought of Pride, reverently picking up the rainbow. How human beauty and worth and complexity is constantly inviting us into deeper relationship.

I thought of the lives lived, given, taken, and touched by each object. How life feels both binary—alive/dead, right?—and absolutely not. Is a rose petal “dead” because it has dropped or been torn from the plant? In what sense is a small orange river-stone alive?

I thought about how much I like to collect answers—and how much more relaxed and curious I feel when I’m holding questions, turning them over, arranging them, leaving them to the tide to work on, too.

Thoughts? Questions? Stories to share?

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