Mayflower Beach smallAnother week of clouds and rain on Cape Cod. Then Thursday evening the sun began to break through, so John and I drove to Mayflower Beach to see the sunset. The tide was way out, creating a vast sweep of sand and sea. The sinking sun sparkled off the retreating waters and illuminated a light fog that hovered over the sand. It was otherworldly.

Down by the water’s edge, there was a family collecting something in buckets.  I asked the woman what she was gathering, and she demonstrated. Finding a dimple in the wet sand, she scratched with her foot and flipped out a rust-colored disk. “Sand dollar,” she said, dropping it into her bucket.

“Is it alive?”

“Yeah. You dry them and use them to decorate wreaths.  If you bought one of these in a store, it would cost a dollar.”

Taken aback, I looked at her nearly-full bucket, and the buckets of her husband and avidly collecting children. There were dozens and dozens of sentient beings there, about to be dried out and used as decorations.

But who was I to judge? If I’d encountered a family gathering oysters, I would have smiled approvingly. Living off the land and all that. I eat beings every day with far more going on in the consciousness department than a sand dollar. Even so, the words of the Metta Sutra kept running through my head.

Whatever beings there may be
Whether they be weak or strong
Omitting none
The great and the mighty
The medium short and small
The seen and the unseen
Those living near and far away
Those born, and to be born
Let all beings be at ease.

I scratched up a sand dollar myself. “Here buddy. You’d better get out of here.” Carrying it further down the shore, I placed it gently in the water.