Sand Dollar Love

No takers for the sunrise walk this morning.

Little Jeffrey told me last night, “Don’t wake me, I want to sleep in.”


So…it was just me and the ocean this a.m.

This sand is well-known to me. I first left my footprints here as a new bride. Then later as a young mama.

We stopped coming here as the boys grew into their own little selves.

Too far to drive.

Most recently I walked these shores as a newly-turned 40 year-old. Jeff brought me back here in March to surprise me for my birthday. We enjoyed it so much we decided to give it another try.

Today as I walk in my old footprints I am only thinking, “My, how time flies.”

When we first came here as newlyweds, I kept this same practice every morning: walk along the beach at sunrise…gather what beachy treasures my two hands could hold…sing prayers out over the ocean—feel their power return to me with each lapping wave…and return renewed.

On that first trip, my treasures were tiny sand dollars. In those early days, these silver-dollar-sized jewels littered these sands. I brought them home with me by the dozens, enchanted with their pristine white.

Strange, I have not found such treasure since. There are many broken pieces of larger, discolored sand dollars up and down the shore, but my little lovelies have gone it seems.

I have come to see them as a wedding gift from Father; little trinkets to delight.

As I searched in vain this morning, it seemed to me that the tiny bleached circlets were an accurate representation of our love at that time: small, unscarred, fresh and beautiful.

As I wandered, lost in memories, a paralyzing thought struck me.

Could it be, then, that these old, broken, graying pieces are a picture of our love today?

Pondering this concept as I trudged back to the condo I decided to google the sand dollar and learn a little more about these cuties (Ah, the wonders of mobile internet).

Wikipedia was a bit helpful, telling me that sand dollars live an average of 6-10 years, that living sand dollars range from bluish green to purple in color, and that (wow) they digest their food for up to two days.

But I also stumbled on some research articles that discussed the difficulty that sand dollar larvae have in survival because of their small size.

Does this mean that larger sand dollars are older?

My searches regarding this issue were not conclusive, only telling me that size depends on many factors—including environment and feeding conditions. We can determine the age of a sand dollar by counting the growth rings around the edges of the exoskeleton.

In the absence of a clear answer, I am going to assume that if the sand dollar larvae are tiny, then the things must get bigger as they age.

Make sense?

We can then assume that these larger sand dollar pieces I am finding are pieces of older specimens.

I also discovered this little fact: The most common cause of death for sand dollars is old age.

As I read more about these ocean creatures, I began to gain a healthy respect for the unsightly pieces of exoskeleton I have been finding in abundance on this trip.

They began to take on a new kind of beauty in my eyes.

An enduring kind of beauty.

These guys were likely the elder statesmen of the sand dollar community.

Pretty, they may not be, but they had lived a long and full life in the underwater world.

I began to feel sorry for the pristine whites I had gathered in my youth. These little guys must have died an early death.

You know where I’m going here, right?

Love that endures sometimes is not so pretty. Sometimes it becomes scarred, or discolored. It may not appear attractive to the average on-looker.

But a deeper look will reveal the beauty.

Yes, maybe our love is like these pieces of exoskeleton, growing more beautiful—richer and deeper– as the years pass.


  1. says

    Oh, I love sunrise on the beach.

    And yes, I’m right with you. To see the beauty in older, beaten up, passed through the hard times life, love, marriage takes some gazing, some seeing beneath the surface that is marred to the strength that is underneath.

    Enjoy your beach time – and thanks for your prayers. I leave on Friday!

  2. says

    Beauty is in the air or perhaps deeply rooted in our hearts today. I also posted of it and it’s nature defined by God. I wonder what treasure He will roll your way today?

    Have fun with your family, playing by the sea.


  3. says

    Laura, what a beautiful thought. Having been married to my love for over 27 years, I suspect at times our love does not look too pretty, but yes, deep inside it is more beautiful.
    I also think of the coppers in The Gift. Remember how the coppers are sometimes dismembered and they increase in value? If we could assemble all the pieces of a broken sand dollar…how neat would that be?
    What a gift.

  4. says


    what a wonderful analogy, yes love does get beat up a bit over time. Paul and I will celebrate 25 years in a couple of weeks. I cannot imagine my life without him, he has weathered the storms with me and provided such strength and comfort…yes I think we do look a bit scarred and discolored but what we have is indeed beautiful, a gift from the Father. Enjoy your time at the beach!!

    In Him,

  5. says

    “Love that endures is sometimes not pretty.” Hmmm… mulling that one. And dreaming of sand dollars and mornings of ocean sounds… and salt on the air.

  6. says

    Little gifts on the shore…

    Seems you found the beauty where another might see only unsightly, broken pieces.

    That’s like God and us. The King is enthralled by our beauty (Psalm 45:11) even when the world sees only the broken pieces.

  7. says

    So glad you have a chance to enjoy the beach with your boys. I love this post. It is amazing how God reveals Himself to us no matter where we are.
    Enjoy your holiday!!!

  8. says

    I loved reading this. And I loved the fact that most sand dollars die of old age. Age does bring a different kind of beauty, it is not so obvious, it is deeper and more authentic, both in love and life.

  9. says

    “The elder statesmen of the sand dollar community…”

    I love that; as Susan and I sat with the “ancients” around the table yesterday, I couldn’t help but come to the same conclusion about them. They are the growing, broken, fragmented, yet beautiful witness to me of a life lived on purpose. They are my “elder statesment”.

    Beautiful piece, friend. If you want to take a peek at my “ancients” you can do so at the blog. I put up a video about my time with “runner mom”, which includes some time around the table with my “elder statesmen.”

    Love you.


  10. says

    For a moment I thought you were really stretching here, but what a lovely conclusion you reached, Laura. Brings back memories of some of my own beach trips. (It’s been too long since the last time.) I feel an excursion to Virginia Beach coming on this summer. I feel I’ll be back to your blog too, for more refreshment of my soul.

  11. says

    Dear Laura, I found your essay while researching my favorite marine creature, the sand dollar. So I can’t leave without telling you that finding it here on the Internet was as nice as finding a sand dollar on a beach.
    Warmest regards,

  12. says

    Thank you, Dan, for your kind comment. And for reminding me of this sweet time in my life. So, tell me…are the darker sand dollars the old guys?

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