Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sand Dollars - Nature's Precious Surprise

A typical sand dollar found on a Naples, Florida beach.

Sand Dollars are a sea animal and shell that are elegant and contain one of nature's precious surprises.  They are washed up at the shore line of beaches and are shallowly buried under the sand.  You do need to dig a little for them.  In Naples, Florida, sand dollars wash up every June and you will see people walking along the shoreline hunting and digging for them.   When you find one you will see it is a brownish color like the one pictured above.  .

Sand dollars have no arms or legs, but move around by tiny spines on their body.  If you rub your hand against the sand dollar the spines make it feel fury.  When you find one, it is a treasure.  There are five small holes on the shell that resemble the position of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Then, when you break open the sand dollar you find the treasure - five small, dove-like pieces fall out.  It is said they spread good will and peace.  Therefore; the sand dollar is a symbol of Jesus Christ and the good will and peace spread by the Holy Spirit.

Once you have found a precious sand dollar, the next thing you want to do is clean and preserve it.  When you arrive home, soak it in fresh water first, changing the water frequently as it begins to smell and the water begins turning brown.  Then, soak the sand dollar in a solution of 50/50 water and bleach.  Only leave the sand dollar in the solution for 5-10 minutes.  It will crumble if left in the bleach any longer.  Rinse it throrougly in fresh water and let it dry.  If it is not white enough, wait a while and repeat putting it in the bleach solution, again for no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Sand dollars are beautiful just to lay out around the house.  Cleaned, they can be used in crafts as they will never smell again.  Sand dollars are also beautiful when framed and hung on the wall.  Here is a poem that tells the story of the sand dollar:
                                                            There's a pretty little legend
                                                            That I would like to tell
                                                            Of the birth and death of Jesus
                                                            Found in this lowly shell.

                                                            If you examine closely,
                                                            You'll see that you find here
                                                            Four nail holes and a fifth one
                                                            Made by a Roman's spear.

                                                            On one side the Easter lily
                                                            Its center is the star
                                                            That appeared unto the shepherds
                                                            And led them from afar.

                                                            The Christmas Poinsettia
                                                            Etched on the other side
                                                            Reminds us of his birthday
                                                            Our happy Christmastide.

                                                            Now break the center open
                                                            And here you will release
                                                            The five white doves awaiting
                                                            To spread good will and peace.

                                                            The simple little symbol
                                                            Christ left for you and me
                                                            To help us spread his gospel
                                                            Through all eternity.

Note:  verse taken from a Florida postcard