Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Land Hermit Crabs: Theology 101

by Guest Blogger, Keith Piccolo
Keith's website
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My friend Keith Piccolo recently wrote this on his Facebook page and I asked permission to re-post it here. Enjoy! — Coffee Snob

Hermit crabs. Not likely we would think there is anything we could learn from them. I mean, come on; they are a primitive life form with no real personality, right? They are incapable of emotional displays or anything beyond an instinctual reaction for self-preservation.

...Or are they?

A year and a half ago, I was the fortunate recipient of a land hermit crab. Not by choice. I was down at Rocky Point, Mexico, and had collected some sea shells for my niece's collection (which she never received, but that's a whole OTHER story. . .but I digress). When I came back to the states, I had discovered an "illegal immigrant" had stowed away in my collection. One of those shells was occupied!!!

Having NO idea how to care for a land hermit crab, I quickly headed to a pet store to get a book on hermit crabs, along with all the necessary supplies to care for him. Unfortunately, it was too late. He only lasted three days in America before departing to that southern beach in the sky.

Anyway, having already made the investment in crab care supplies, I decided to buy one (for all of $4.00 with tax). They seemed easy enough to take care of, but I was in for a rude awakening. Hermit crabs have a handful of specific needs that (if any one is unmet) could result in a fatality of the crustacean. One of which is that they are social creatures. My investment tripled, as I had to purchase two more to keep the first one company.

Besides all these nuances, I discovered something fascinating about hermit crabs. These creatures actually DO have "personalities". On a primitive level, they had variations in responses to the same stimuli, repeatedly consistent to the individual. This led to a genuine intrigue. They were certainly not a cuddly pet, but none-the-less were endearing to me. I would observe their behaviors toward each other, how they interacted within their environment (fondly referred to as a "crabitat"), and most importantly how they me.

Higher life forms respond with recognition to their owners. Dogs and cats know who you are, and that you are their provider. Hermit crabs... not so much. So, when I go to put fresh water in their dishes or replace their food supply, they do not recognize me as anything other than a big potential threat. Or so I thought.

I have three crabs; Dudley, Sherman and Peabody (I'm a cartoonist, what did you expect me to name them?!). Dudley was my first. He responds to my presence by running and hiding as quickly as is possible for an arthropod to move those tiny legs. Peabody was my second, and he just withdraws into his shell and stays motionless for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, there is Sherman.

Sherman is the middle child in age. Sherman does not run when I come in. Sherman does not hide when I come in. Sherman just... watches. He waits to see if I am coming toward him. When I get too close, or make a sudden movement, he will casually, rotate himself and move a few steps away. Otherwise, Sherman is content to let me be who I am, knowing I am not a threat to him. Amazingly, I am the one who provides all their specific needs and keeps them alive and content. Yet, none of them but Sherman even comes close to responding to me.

Now, how is this "theology," you ask? Well, I find all three of my crabs' responses represented in human beings regarding the Lord. Some run as far from Him as they cannot understanding, not wanting to understand, afraid, angry, confused, rebellious, whatever. Some hide - pretend He isn't there (maybe He will go away). Then, some... watch. Some, although they do not understand Him, do feel safe and know that He is not a threat; that in fact, He is the one sustaining their very life in existence.

What is truly remarkable is that the more I watch these specimens, the more I understand how the Lord must sometimes feel with me when I do not acknowledge Him for all He has done, and is doing, in my life. And while these crabs will never fully grasp the concept that I care for them, I at least can grasp the concept that God so loved me that He sacrificed His Son so that I could have a relationship with Him. Amazing. And all that from a primitive little land hermit crab.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made..."

I think I get it.

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