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  • Kim Van Sandt

Broken Pieces

On the beach I will occasionally have a sweet surprise. It happens when I find a piece of what looks like white china with smooth, rounded edges, and as I pick it up it flips in my hand to reveal a color pattern on the other side. Often it will be an old blue pattern or maybe something like old dishware patterns I saw growing up.

At times it will be one of those 70’s patterns, large block flowers, leaves, or stripes.

Some of them are crazed with age, or with exhaustion at the abuse of the waves, water, sand and stones. Some have that definitive ridge that shows it came from a saucer or the bottom of a plate. Occasionally it will be a fragile piece that was part of a teacup handle. Another time it might be a delicate picturesque pattern piece with a tree (check out two pendants with pieces like this in my Etsy shop). But any time I find these, I am pleasantly surprised, and it makes me think….

Often my mind will wander, thinking about who it used to belong to? Where has it been? What meals was it used for? Was it a special piece only used on special occasions? Or more utilitarian and plain? Was it a gift to a bride? Or maybe just an inexpensive piece from an old SS Kresge’s or McCrory’s store? While my mind wanders I don’t find any really big answers because, how could I know anyway?

I may lack accurate information, but I often think a little deeper. I think about how, (if one believes that God is omnipotent, anyway) about how God could possibly know exactly where that piece is from; which household it originated in; who purchased it; where it traveled as it was passed from one person to another; how it got broken; and how it ended up on the shore. Sometimes I even thank him for placing it in my path, because he may have done so for me specifically - just for my enjoyment!?

I suppose you could think ‘why would He keep track of trivial things like that?’ Or maybe ‘why would He care about ME finding it?’ But I figure with that Bible verse about numbering the hairs on all our heads, well dishware is only slightly more trivial than a hair. And if He did leave a gift on the beach for me to find, well I think I’d rather err on the side of caution and say ‘thank you’, as opposed to being an ungrateful stinker. I figure I have been mistakenly credited with a thank you or two before, and it feels nice to be appreciated - even if it wasn’t as intentional as I was given credit for.

It is a big thought to wonder exactly how far God’s all-knowing-ness goes? All the way to dishware? To even eyebrow hairs? To grains of sand on the shore? Perhaps a little intimidating when I take that thought inward, about me, all my broken pieces... but the way I understand it, he still loves me even in my broken pieces.

(And thank you to my sister Shannon for admitting that she thought about the broken pieces like that too – that seems to make it more relevant and less silly. Although, all things considered, she and I are a tad bit silly.) (Slight editorial correction: my husband says Shannon and I are much more than a TAD bit silly.)

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