At the Seams
“Get it. Get it!” This is what I was saying to the crabs ticking along the sand sideways. Their spindle feet made tracks like seams wherever they went, and there were a lot more seams because my friend and I were lobbing whatever we could find in the sand at them to see if they’d make use of it. I watched one crab take a rock about the size of a thumb nail down a hole, perhaps to build a wall or to complete construction of a crab-sized couch or sofa.
“Did you see that?” My friend saw another crab take a whole stick down one of the holes. He asked what I thought was down there. I said I didn’t know, but it must be pretty spacious. There were about a half dozen crabs of different sizes watching for what would be lobbed next. Some seemed on to our little game and watched the scrambling of their friends with what I imagined was a wry, world-weary skepticism known only to crabs like these. One of the crabs with more vigor seemed to chase down anything in a 3-foot radius. Looking at it now, yes, I confess, we were playing fetch with crabs.
I thought about the caverns these crabs were building underneath. I thought about the water washing in from the surf and what people walking across the water’s edge do to the subterranean crab abodes. The thoughtlessness of a footfall, the danger of “long walks on the beach” to the unseen scavengers unnerved me a little bit. How many apartments had I crushed? How many tunnels had crumbled from my tromping up and down the shore? Then I wondered how else my actions, taken without any malicious intent, had crushed things. Sure, there were the breakups and the bad news, but what else?
So much of what we know of others is what we see on the surface. We can guess at what is going on underneath. We can do our best to imagine, to empathize, to understand, but just as often, our experiences of what goes on under the surface for others is limited to our own experience and the experiences of a few who let us know how our actions affect their lives. The human mind is a marvel of prediction and summation—these gifts have kept us humming along as a species pretty well. They can’t tell the whole story, though. Sometimes we don’t get it.
The laughter at our fetching friends quieted after a time. The ocean churned out a chorus of enormous waves far away booming low in harmony with the crackling of the closer crashing waves. Lifetimes of plans crushed and hopes altered were scattered across the sand there. Connections unseen, hidden places, and caverns carved in secret underlay all of those lives waiting for what might roll by, what will be lobbed into range to make something more, something better below the seams on the surface where the caverns echo to us all, “Get it. Get it!” And I pray that we will.
Go get it.
Rev. T. J.