Soaring On with a Spiritual Shell By Nate Dirvin
Before I ran ultra marathons, I had the urge to help others through hard times and struggles of grief and loss. As a counselor for over a decade, I aspired to put forth my best effort to help others, especially through traumatic events. I had been through my own loss after facing a traumatic custody battle with my son. Running ultras became my therapy to deal with the loss.

Upon a visit to a winery in Cape May, New Jersey with a friend last September, we stumbled across a shell, which is a symbol of the earth and its elements. It is believed that shells also symbolize immortality, and continuous cycles of life and birth, as well as protection, resilience, and the interconnectedness of all things. The shell was painted with bright water coloring, the blue and yellow fluorescents vibrant. The underside of the shell read, “Celebrating Cecily,” and included a Facebook address. When I looked it up on Facebook, I discovered the story of a heartbroken mother who had lost her daughter to brain cancer, or Medulloblastoma. Before leaving this world at 22 years old, Cecily requested that shells be painted on her birthday each year in her remembrance. Her family had the ongoing tradition of painting these shells on her birthday each year when she was alive. Cecily wanted that same tradition to keep going, letting her spirit live on.   To commemorate her daughter, Cecily’s mom painted these colorful seashells and placed them for others to find so they could pass on her daughter’s spirit. She requested that once a shell was found, the finder move it to another location for someone else to find and do the same.  According to Cecily’s mother, the higher her daughter’s shell could be placed, the higher her angel wings would soar.

It so happened that I was slated for my third Moab 240 weeks after I found the shell.

Read Nate Dirwin’s complete article in the next edition of Ultrarunning World magazine, Issue 41.

About Nate Dirvin
Nate Dirvin is an avid endurance athlete and ultra runner who has completed thirty ultra marathons of which eleven were 200 milers or greater along with twelve 100milers.

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