Symbol of Strength

I’m currently designing a salt cellar for the coastal kitchen. The design incorporates oyster shells from the Gulf of Mexico and enhances the cook’s kitchen décor. So as I’m handcrafting these precious home décor items, my mind ruminates about the oyster and its shell. Allow me to share a few thoughts I’ve had about the oyster.

Through this process of design, the oyster shells have undergone several treatments to prepare them for use in the home. I have to say, I haven’t had to be gentle with these shells. Typically I work with Sea Urchin and other shells, which are so fragile I have to treat them gently and lightly. So in contrast, the oyster shells are a relief to work with on this project. They are so tough and can take a tumble or two.

   Farmers Market, Paris France 2017, Photo by Kittridge Laine

 Farmers Market, Paris France 2017, Photo by Kittridge Laine

Are we like that? I know we all take a tumble or two, but are we tough? Do we have a hard, protective layer surrounding our soft, inner selves? I think to some point I do have resilience and a tough mental attitude that leads me to persevere in challenging circumstances. Yet I can’t imagine that strength comes from me alone. I believe my faith plays a leading role to making it through life’s tumbles.

Also I know I can’t do this life thing alone. I’m not isolated – even the oysters adhere together.  They adhere to undersides of boats or to buoys or to docks in great numbers. Naturally they are found clustered together. Even some of the shells I’m working with have pieces of other shells attached. A confirmation of not living life solo, but in community.

As I work with the oysters, I’m mesmerized not only by the strength of the outer shell but the shimmering beauty of the inner shell. I turn them in my hand and watch the mother of pearl coating shimmer in the light. I also love the touch of violet hue in the shape of a circle. This beauty captures my attention.  Also I see a resemblance of that aspect in people I meet. Friends and acquaintances that have been through a really hard time, yet are so beautiful from the inside out, they too garner my attention.

Speaking of beauty, I recently found a pearl inside one of the shells. Not a perfectly round and loose one, but instead it was attached and buried in the layers of the interior of the shell. It was partially formed and laying just below the surface. Which leads me to think of the irritant which entered the shell and how it was met with resistance and its natural defenses set into play to encapsulate the foreign substance and keep the oyster safe. The essence of how a beautiful pearl is formed from an unexpected encounter. Which makes me look at pearls differently now. I now see pearls as symbols of overcoming. Symbols of strength. Symbols of faith that we can overcome unexpected challenges. We are resilient.

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(For my science loving friends, here is a great article about the adhesive substance that assists the oysters in sticking together in wet environments. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100920142602.htm)