A Picture of Friendship: An Oyster

I've learned some lessons while at the beach that seems worth to share here.Of all the shells that wash ashore, the ugliest of them all is the oyster shell. Amidst the spectacular and intriguing sand-dollars which are perfectly round with an embedded cross in the center, the amazing clam shells which are symmetrical, sturdy and smooth and the beautiful periwinkle shells which are multi-colored in rich hues of purple, pink and magenta. Then there is the oyster shell.The oyster shell is ugly—no real color other then gray. It is awkward—with bulges, layers and protrusions, this shell has washed up, worn with the pounding of a thousand waves and eons of sand bars that it has washed across. But it is rough, with sharp cutting edges and pointed ends that can easily cut your foot if you walk on it while it waits for someone to pick it up. But no one really picks up an oyster shell. The beach is littered with these shells that lie unwanted and abandoned to all the early morning shell seekers who comb the beach each morning for the riches that the tide has rolled in at night.But oysters do not grow alone. Oysters grow in community. Each oyster attaches itself to the next making oyster beds where all of the oysters live together. Little rough looking roots or feet grow from the center of the shell and grab hold of anything that appears to be solid, strong and  stable.As I’ve looked at these shells in these days, I’m reminded that the oyster shells are the ideal metaphor of Christian community: rough, sometimes cutting, often ugly, and many layers.  All the oysters are attached—bound by some rooting system which protects them from the solo oyster being washed away. There are no solo oysters—they only live in community.None of us are perfect. We all messes--just like the looks of every oyster bed I've ever seen. Some of us are rough. Some of us are broken. Some of us have personalities that are layered, amazing and some very plain. Yet, all of us are like the oyster. The mass of individuals coming together because there is strength in numbers; we need each other to survive well; together we can do what we cannot do alone! And there's one more important thing about the oyster.In parts of the world, great pearls of great price actually grown inside of the oysters. A small grain of sand is formed with the oyster’s own ways of making a pearl out of an something that is irritating. From the irritation comes a pearl—something valuable—something beautiful—something that makes the oyster itself very, very valuable indeed. 

  1. What is the pearl that you’ve gained from your oyster friends?
  2. How have your fellow oyster shells hurt you in your efforts to live your life?
  3. How do you feel that you are rooted to the others in your oyster bed?

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