“See? It’s blue.”

My eyes adjusted, and I saw what he was pointing to, a tiny blue piece of glass half buried in the sand. We stopped, as he dislodged it, and placed it in my outstretched palm.

I marveled at how smooth it was, and opaque.

Time and opposition transformed it.

Sand and water removed the sharp edges.

What had once been garbage, dumped into the ocean had become something of value.Sea glass is a sought after treasure for beach combers.

The best time to search for sea glass is after a storm has churned the sand. Pieces can be trapped on the rockier beaches like the one in California we were running on early that morning.

Once I adjusted my vision, because I knew what to look for, I saw more pieces of sea glass. It is difficult to find them. The beauty lies in the struggle.

I had met Eduardo, as part of activities at the resort we were staying at for our family reunion. I showed up at 6 am on a Monday morning to run, because I had committed to finish a marathon. I had hit snooze, and didn’t want to go, but I got up and went anyway.

Marathon training didn’t stop, just because I was on vacation.

It was hard. I wanted to quit most days, but I persisted, and struggled on.

Lately, I have felt like broken glass.

I’ve felt  life tossing me about without knowing exactly where I am going to end up. It has been painful as trials have worn away my jagged edges. I have felt a bit isolated and lonely. Sea glass is  found on beaches, and glass is made from sand, but it’s different.

Glass is made from sand that has been transformed.

It is transformed with fire and the addition of other elements. The final result is transparent and can be used as we see through windows, hold beverages, and create works of art.

The beauty of life is in the struggle. #FocusOnJoy Click To Tweet

Most glass is fragile though, and loses its value once it is broken. Between my coordination issues with dyspraxia,  and having four young sons, I have dealt with a lot of broken glass .

Sometimes, the things I’ve lost, make me cry.

They can’t be replaced, and their loss cuts deep. 

I’ve had a lot of broken glass in my life the past few weeks, as two wonderful women I know have died. I seemed to find the joy in Christmas for awhile, and then felt it shattered with obligations, responsibilities and the grief of revisiting my own ghosts of Christmases past.

When I feel broken, I fix things, and make stuff. It allows my mind to ponder as I create. I’ve pondered broken glass.

I’ve thought about those precious bits of sea glass.

I’ve also thought about the broken glass in stained windows. Pieces intentionally broken, but combined together to create beautiful works of art to be appreciated.

A couple of days after my time at the beach, I met my dad’s cousin Greg.

Greg’s mother was a sister of my paternal grandfather Wayne Goff, and great Uncle Max Goff.  Greg’s mother Myrna and Uncle Max were close as siblings and roommates as adults.

After a long lunch at a restaurant with our families sharing stories, Greg gave me a small suitcase with papers and documents about his mother, and step father to record as part of our family history research.

Every time that I have attempted to scan them, to send them back to him, I start crying, because there is so much loss contained in the papers he shared. Greg’s mother, Myrna Emaline Goff Pfister Messick, lived a life with a lot of loss. She suffered the loss of marriages, children, homes, and financial stability.

You can tell a lot about a person, and what they value by what they choose to save in their box of stuff.  I had viewed her life like a Greek tragedy where just as something goes well, disaster strikes, and the Kraken, is released and destroys everything in sight.

My perspective changed when cousin Greg shared this picture with me last night.

After her second husband died suddenly in a truck accident, Myrna moved with her three young sons to Arizona. In their new home that Christmas, Uncle Max, painted the large 6 foot window facing the street with this mural using water color paints. During the day, the light would shine in from outside making it more beautiful from inside. At night, the light from the home illuminated the window for the neighborhood, and was more striking from the outside.

In the few years they lived in that home in Arizona, Greg recalls those are the only times Max painted “stained glass” windows for the holidays. The windows always had a similar religious theme to this three kings window. Max was not a particularly religious person. He did not regularly attend church though, his sister Myrna did.

I believe Uncle Max painted the windows for Myrna to help her with her perspective during the holiday season, and give her something beautiful to focus on. Seemingly broken pieces created a work of art and beauty.

Greg let me know last night that no matter what happened in her life, Myrna focused on the good, and had an optimistic attitude. She always looked for the good in others.

That’s what I try to do as well.

I thought about the black suitcase, and what I will leave behind someday in my own boxes of stuff, and digital footprint.

Myrna’s papers are not a record of loss and pain, but of overcoming trials and becoming stronger as a result of them. They are a testament of a life enduring the sharp edges being worn away, and smoothed trough time and persistent friction.

The beauty of her life, like mine is in the struggle.

What if the broken parts of my life are treasured sea glass? What if my broken parts in life are there to create a beautiful masterpiece?

Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – When something shatters this week, whether it is glass or an expectation, remember the sea glass or stained glass. There is beauty is in the broken and the struggle.

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