Glass Beach

If you go north from Point Arena driving up the winding highway past Mendocino, you come to a fairly large town for the area, Fort Bragg, California. It’s big enough to have gas stations that don’t gouge you on the price and even a McDonald’s. There is one other claim to fame of Fort Bragg. It has a glass beach. It may not be big but it is worth seeing.

A little ways into town on the highway, there is a well-marked turn to the glass beach. A couple of blocks later you arrive at a newer park and a paved parking lot. Bathroom facilities and a paved trail are some new improvements. Lots of construction was going on when I was there. But even though the main stairs to the beach are under construction, you can still find a way to scamper down to the beach. Or at least a portion of it. You may not be met with the world’s most dazzling site, but still note-worthy. Take a close look at what you are now standing on. Little pieces of glass worn smooth from the ocean and washed ashore.

Yes, it is very pretty but the real story is how this came to be a glass beach. Back in the 1940’s trash and waste didn’t seem like a big problem. When one site filled up you just started using another. And that’s exactly what happened here. Up the coast a bit, one dump site got full. The people closed it and started a new one. The one they started was now the site of the present day glass beach. The dump stayed there till 1967 when it was finally closed. During all those in-between years, the trash would be burned to keep the size of the pile down. After you do that over and over for years, all you have left is the metal and the glass. Just about anything went to the dump in those days. But in 1967 we were much more knowledgeable about waste management. The metal was removed and the place cleaned up. But the ocean and time had done their work on some things already. Little pieces of glass left in the ocean and buffeted by waves, had become smooth and carried by the tides onto the shore. Over and over this happens and POOF! You have a glass beach.

It’s actually one beautiful way of recycling. And that is the point. Yes, it’s a natural way of recycling and yes, we should all try to do things to make our world a better place to live. But the real story is that God recycles too! He takes us, the old, worn trash of a life and recycles us through His love into something grand! God picks us out of the dump and makes us into beautiful people. That’s something He will gladly do for anyone. All we have to do is ask.

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