Glass Beach is a fascinating bit of sand tucked between rocky cliffs on the Pacific coast. For decades, early in the twentieth century, local residents dumped trash over the cliffs and into the ocean. From time to time, fires would be lit to reduce the size of the pile. Everything from household trash to old cars was dumped into the ocean with no thought given to the environmental damage it caused. In the late sixties, dumping was prohibited and cleanup efforts were initiated. Unfortunately, they were only partially successful.
As the decades went by, nature accomplished what man could not. Through the pounding waves, the ceaseless shifting sands, the unending cycle of tides, the beach was purified. Garbage gradually washed away or decomposed, and broken glass reduced to polished jewels littering the beach with colorful sparkling light.
The amazingly complex creation that we call the ocean was designed by God to do so many things for us. The water cycle purifies and moves water across our world. The oceans moderate our climate and affect the quality of the air we breathe. In fact, the design is so robust that it minimizes the effects from the damage we have done and continue to do to the world around us!
This Christmas Eve, just at sunset, I stood on Glass Beach, my family clustered around me, feet in the glass, waves lapping just a few feet away. As we looked across the waves, the last light allowed us to glimpse the glass jewels mixed with the sand and pebbles beneath our feet. I marvelled aloud, amazed at the power to re-create, the power to turn dangerous garbage into something uniquely beautiful.
A piece of broken glass laying on the beach is nothing but dangerous trash, waiting to slash the feet of unsuspecting passersby. We do so much damage to our hearts and minds, filling them with trash, letting evil corrupt and control, crowding out the good, making us, just like the broken glass, dangerous and hurtful not only to ourselves, but to those around us.
The powerful action of sand and surf turning the glass over and over changes it into something very unlike its former self. Something that is no longer harmful but a thing of beauty. And just like that glass, God can clean and polish us, changing that which was harmful and ugly into something sparkling and beautiful, something that brings joy and light to those it touches.