Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Crab

I saw a crab yesterday. It was a good sized one, brightly colored, with large pincers and antennae that undulated in the tide. I stood on the rocks and watched it for a while, noticing the barnacles on its shell and the strange articulation of its arms and many legs. Clearly, the crab had been made with a precise purpose and was perfectly designed for the tidepool environment.

As I looked more closely I noticed that the barnacles were actually snails. Or maybe hermit crabs. Scavengers, certainly. I started to wonder if it was alive. I tossed a rock at it and thought that it moved a claw. I wandered around the rocks and collected pebbles and threw them, one at a time, to see what it would do. It didn't move. After a long look for a stick, I hunkered down near the water and grabbed its leg. Nothing. Then I tapped it on the carapace. No movement. It was dead.

I applied my heart to what I saw and learned a lesson from what I observed. In the spiritual life, there are people who appear to be alive, who look healthy and even do some things a healthy Christian would do. But if you watch them carefully there are small signs that give you cause for unease, and when you come close enough to touch them... they are dead.


  1. Anonymous3:13 PM

    you sound like annie dillard, who i also enjoy reading

  2. Hey thanks, David, that's quite a complement.