Since early days of the Church, when followers of Christ went on pilgrimage, they attached scallop shells to their clothing to identify themselves as pilgrims. I'm told that they would also carry a scallop shell. Because they were pilgrims, folk that they met along the way were to offer them food--but only enough to fill their shell so that no hardship would be placed on those sharing their own provisions.
At our Ash Wednesday service I handed our scallop shells to those who gathered to worship that day as a sign of their Lenten pilgrimage, particularly our parish commitment this Lent to worship fully (attend worship weekly in Lent, and three times during Holy Week).
Now that Ash Wednesday, a Daughter of the King gathering, and the burial of a beloved parishioner are over, I'm on my annual Lenten retreat in Tybee Island.
This morning I joined my parish family at St. Mary's by worshipping fully at All Saints Episcopal Church, Tybee Island, Georgia, where the worship was sweet and grace-fillled. In the stained glass window near where I prayed and sang and listened was .... a scallop shell.
This afternoon walking on a gray-filled, very windy, very chilly beach there were few birds, fewer folks venturing out, but of course...scallop shells. I picked up a few as a reminder that, like the ridges on a scallop all return to a central point, the variety of our walk with Christ will lead us, with God's abundant Grace, to the place where he dwells.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
from TS Eliot's poem, Little Gidding