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Shape The Dust

"You've become a shell of yourself."


That's what a still, small voice said to me recently.

Once I got over my sheer indignation directed at whichever individual neuron fired in my brain to conjure that little gem, I identified it as a truth I'd been avoiding. Then, upon making such an uncomfortable discovery, I distracted myself, going down a cognitive rabbit hole of wondering where the phrase, 'a shell of itself' or 'of oneself' even came from. Then my mind wandered to several other self-diversions until finally that snide jiminy cricket, holy spirit, or shred of my own subconscious fired back a clarifying statement:


"Maybe you haven't become a shell, but you certainly refuse to come out of one."


Ouch.


Layers of dust had accrued on the surface of that shell, like the alloyed plates of a war-worn battleship. Remnants of rubble lingered upon it from traversing a battle-ridden sea of relationships, daily fallout, turmoil, and a grievous and brutal season these past years. All of it is enough to make it seem as though the vessel had fallen into total disuse. Decommissioned, left to rust and languish.

But no. I'd just hidden away between bouts, all under the guise of regaining my energy.


Composing myself. Finding my strength anew. Beginning again.


Excuses. Every last one.

The good news is, I was still somewhere in that armored shell. I hadn't become melded with the carapace itself.


The bad news: When the walls have been up for as long as they have, light blinds, any movement is painful, and admission is nigh unbearable.

Unlike the exoskeleton of a goliath beetle, the faceted shell of a loggerhead sea turtle, or the gleaming plate donned by knights of old, our natural armor is not one to protect from the elements, a predator, or a warring assailant. Ours is an emotional forcefield, its telltale signs are displacement of care, conservation of energy bordering creeping into avarice, and a blatant disregard for how those might affect the ones around who matter most, second most, and least. From the flesh of your flesh to the stranger on the road.

I told myself I could find meaning I so desired while hiding away, that I could find and take hold of the means to manifest the bold creations swirling around in my mind like some cyclonic brainstorm ready to tear asunder anything in its path to break free, all on my own.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Do you want abundance? It can't be found in isolation. Do you want meaning? You won't find it dwelling on the past, criticizing yourself, or lamenting what could be impossible.


The inclination is to try our hardest to shake off the dust and rubble that weighs down upon us, or hide from it entirely.


But sometimes, those armored plates need to be broken for the light to come in through the cracks. The motes of dust flitting through the air within those beams will signify conviction and hope. You'll watch as the last debris from disasters that have shaken you to the core fall away to the ground, where the light shines below, revealing them for the powerless remnants they now are, no longer weighing you down.

Reach out for those blades of radiance, two-edged swords meant to cut betwixt flesh, bone, and marrow. Then a curious thing happens. The metal of the blade, an alloy of conviction and hope, meets the soul and cuts to the quick of us. Its cathartic healing touch--not without pain—is akin to the cauterizing of a gaping wound. The seething agony fades, and you are saved.


May we remember that we can shape that dust that life brings into the material of our most profound healing, dreams, and hopes for the future. We need only to reach for slivers of light. If I could grant my daughters one superpower as they age, it would be this.


Shaping the dust with light could be a pretty cool actual superpower... noted. But I digress...


All told, that voice that spoke the hard truth led me to choose to break out of the shell.


It's always our choice to listen, to break out of the shell, shake the dust off, and shape it into something new.


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