Short Stories » Sea-shells


Although the children of Utah have manifold blessings and plenty of healthful play, I often think of some happy pastimes they never have, as I did when a child, in my home by the seashore, the Golden Gate of San Francisco. There is a wonderful sense of delight in walking along the seashore and watching the waves running up to your feet, bringing long wreaths of pretty sea- weeds, some of bright colors, and laying them upon the clean, white sand, while they chase back again. Oh, the sound of the ocean! and oh, the smell of the sea-grass! And the shells! To gather your hat or apron full and then find that newer and perhaps prettier ones have been washed ashore; how can anyone satisfy themselves? You cannot gather them all, and yet how pretty they all are! You can never tire of the seaside, for the waves wash out to-morrow the marks of to-day, and the beach is ever new. Writing one's name in the sand and then watching the waves wash it out; how often it has been done! And the ocean seems talking to you all the time, sometimes coaxing you to come with bare feet; sometimes changeful like a treacherous heart, so that you dare not trust it too near; and sometimes so angry that women, children and even men fear its fury. The Bible speaks of when the great seas shall " give up their dead." but, also, the ocean is a great friend ; it bears ships of commerce from one land to another; it brings and carries the peoples of the earth to visit different countries ; and in its waters swarms food for millions of earth's creatures. Many wondrous things grow in its depths that we can handle without fear ; beautiful corals and useful sponges, also shells that are carved and made into lovely articles for use and adornment ; tortoise shell and mother of pearl, which is used in elegant inlaid work. But most strange and glorious of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached by a Latter-day Saint to the Gentiles at the bottom of the sea, in a diving bell. Can you imagine the solemnity and grandeur of that place of worship? In a diving bell, upon the ocean's floor, with strange creatures gliding around, and the immensity of dark water pressing upon them from all sides and above ! Yet the light of the Holy Spirit shone in those cold, dark depths, and the protecting power of God held back all harm while his children spoke one to another, declaring and listening to his truth. Perhaps this strange circumstance of worship may never again be repeated, until the voice of God's angel calls forth the slumberers of the sea to their resurrection.

Its waters ascend in delicate vapors and temper the hot atmosphere, and by their peculiar properties purify, or carry away, the stale air of many miles inland. Beautiful, grand and terrible, the ocean is one of God's grandest creations. And those shells! If you pick up one and hold it to your ear, you will find that no matter how far away you have brought it, it has kept in its heart the voice of the sea, and if you will listen it will whisper a song to you. So, dear child, may your heart keep forever in it the echo of the voice far away in the great home you have left for a while.

Says one timid little child who was not born by the sea, "I would rather gather mosses and flowers among the hills." Yes, little one, they are very beautiful also, and many happy hours have I spent in dark woods and warm, bright slopes, gathering them. I am told that many rare ferns grow in our canyons, but it is too far for little feet to go, and so few children can gain that pleasure. There is another enjoyment that some children have, berrying and nutting. But we must remember that we are in what used to be named on the maps, the Great American Desert, and it is so much better now than it was when the Latter-day Saints came here, that we may hope for nut groves and maple-sugar groves, with blackberries all through them, as in New England, where some of our parents came from. This is the desert that God said should "blossom as the rose" and springs break forth in solitary places. Is it not wonderful to know that we are in the very place He pointed to so many years ago? Is He not smiting the rocks and causing the waters to break forth in waste places ?

When we see so much fulfilled, can we doubt that the rest will follow? If His eye is upon this land, it is also watching us. Let us help Him with heart and hand to beautify Zion.

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