A Lesson in Holes: My Finished Seashell Banner

A few years ago I began sewing my seashells with holes in them to this linen seashell banner .  I’ve written here and here about how I love these simple, ordinary shells.  Especially shells with holes.  After years of adding one here and there, my banner is covered in beautiful shells found on the beach.  Each one of them came from the same 1.5 mile stretch of beach where we spend time every summer, collected over years.  So here it is, my finished seashell banner.

The holes were there when I found them.  Actually, the holes represent their undoing.  The telltale hole is evidence of a drilling predator, which drilled the hole and ate the soft flesh inside, leaving the shell empty.  At some point, it washed ashore.  Unconsiously, my eyes now spot shells with holes faster than anything else on the beach.  That hole was the end of the story; but it’s the hole that makes it useful to me.

I think life is like that.  A hard thing comes along, drills into us, eats us up inside.  It leaves a mark, a hole, evidence that we’re flawed.  But the very thing that appears to be our undoing, can also be our making!  I look at these ordinary, flawed objects, and I see beauty, survival, grit.  Did you know that the older the shell is, the more white it becomes?  I look at these shells and see me, my journey as a mother.  I see my undoing and my making.

So I’ve slowly filled all the space with rows of shells, organized by size, color, type.  Each one so unique.  Look closely and you’ll never find a duplicate.  These shells I’ve collected for years are now hanging on my wall next to my study desk.  They remind me daily that my holes actually make me more useful, more relatable, more compassionate.  They are part of me and it’s ok to have been changed by them.  In fact, they’ve made me better, even if I look more flawed.  I treasure my finished seashell banner, full of memories and hope.

So many walks along the beach represented here, plus a reminder of my worth.  This was a rewarding project.  I wonder what I’ll do next with my shells…. time to start brainstorming!



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