Shell Trails

[SPOILER ALERT: If you have NOT seen “Finding Dory” and you intend to, do not read this post until after you’ve seen it. If you HAVE seen it, or if you have no intention of ever seeing it, go ahead a proceed. Be forewarned…lol]


David and I went to see Finding Dory tonight. He had a very stressful week last week…physically, emotionally, spiritually. So today, I planned a day for just us, where he wouldn’t have to think too much but just be with his wifey and enjoy the beautiful day. So, after a long, lazy morning and a late breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee, we loaded up and went to Durango.

We started at Home Depot, to take a look at flooring and dream of what our eventually-renovated kitchen/living room/dining room might look like. Then an early supper at Cuckoo’s Chicken House for hot wings and onion rings…our favorite go-to spot.

Then I had planned an evening at the movie. I picked Finding Dory for several reasons: 1) I’ve been waiting to see it since it was released, 2) others have seen it and I wanted to be able to talk to them about it, and 3) I thought it would be a fun, feel-good, low-thought-involved movie that David could watch and not have to think too much or feel too much…just watch, laugh and be entertained.

Little did I know……

I won’t go into the entire plot of the movie except to say that, as a baby-Dory (an absolutely adorable one, at that), she gets separated from her parents…her very loving, patient, encouraging parents that do everything they can to keep her from being ashamed or overly-sensitive about her “short term remembery loss” They never get frustrated with Dory’s inability to remember, but they do worry she will get lost. They teach her several coping strategies, including how to find her way home by following a trail of shells.

…and, after Dory asks them one day, “Will you ever forget me?” they lovingly respond, “No, Dory. We will never ever forget you.” She doesn’t want to forget her parents…but after being lost from them for a long while, she forgets. And she forgets she has forgotten.

A series of events start some small memories to start popping into her cute little blue brain, and she insists on finding her family and “going home.” The rest of the movie is her journey to find her parents…with the help of Marlin and Nemo and Hank, the “septopus”… This journey leads her through twists and turns, obstacles to overcome, predators to escape, echolocation and semi-trucks.

Finally, all alone in a dark murky water, she finds a shell that reminds her of her parents. She has a melancholy memory for a moment, figuring she’ll be alone and forget everyone and everything anyway, giving up hope…when she suddenly sees another shell…and another…and another. She follows this trail of seemingly-neverending shells, only to find the place where her parents have been waiting…setting up shell trails from every direction, leading “home”…because they knew “she’d remember one day.”

The most moving part of this part of the movie to me was when the camera pans high above Dory’s parents home, and you see thousands of shells, going out from every direction. They radiate out from their house like the points on a star or the rays of the sun. Every trail points back to the center, back to home, back to the place where someone who loves Dory is waiting for her.

So much for a movie that won’t make us think or feel too much. I wept.

How many parents have sat at home, with children that are far away. Maybe the children have left deliberately or maybe they’ve been led astray by others or by the crapness that life can throw. Or sometimes, kids leave home and they are not “estranged” from their parents, but maybe they’ve decided to go their own way and ignore the teachings or trainings of their parents…doing their own thing.

Having been in some sort of ministry for 34+ years, to some degree or another, I have talked to, counseled, heard about “prodigal children”…and it always touches a very tender spot in my heart. And good, loving, encouraging, patient parents do all they can to leave “shell trails” for their children to find their way back home. They are doing all they can, hopeful and prayerful that their “Dory” will “remember”.

With the sad prodigal stories I’ve heard, I’ve also heard many “come home” stories…kids that found the shell trails and followed them back home and back into the good graces and loving arms of parents, family, friends. I love those stories.

And many of those “come home” stories wouldn’t have happened without the help of loving friends and acquaintances along the way (like Marlin, Nemo, Hank, Destiny and Bailey) to support and guide and encourage them back on the right track.

But…what about me?

I forget sometimes. I forget that God loves me. God knows I forget. And He sets out shell trails for me to find him again…a shell of answered prayer, a shell of unanswered prayer, a shell of forgiveness, a shell of a mended relationship, a shell of healing, a shell of a beautiful sunset, a shell from a moment of grace…shell after shell after shell.

But I “do life” and forget about the answered prayers and moments of grace. I forget that I’m loved and embraced. Sometimes I get so far from home, from God, that I forget I have forgotten.

Dory’s parents never stopped creating shell trails because they never gave up on her. God never gives up on me, either. Sometimes I forget who I am, but each time I get back on the trail, God throws a party. (see Luke 15:11-32)

And one day, I’ll be able to see from God’s perspective…and see miles and miles of trails that were always leading me back to him…where God’s clues were inviting me to find my way home.

Published by leeannramsey

Pastor's wife. Mom. Friend. Musician. Writer. Artist.

2 thoughts on “Shell Trails

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. And honestly, April was heavy on my heart and mind as I was writing it, because I know all the shell trails you and Uncle Bobby have laid through the years for her to find her way home. And thank God she did!

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