I have a secret desire to be a hermit crab, if only for a day. Every parent longs for eyes on the back of their head, but hermit crabs have eyes that function as a periscope. Forget about how creepy you would look for just a second, and imagine having revolving eyes on top of your head. Then there is the added benefit of hiding in a cave like a recluse.
BOY 1: Mommy? Mommy? Where did you go?
BOY 2: She’s in her shell again. Hey, let’s fight! (kicks brother)
MOM: (eyes popping out of shell) I saw that!
Hermit crabs are not the most attractive creatures on the planet, but they would make excellent real estate agents. When it’s time to move on to another shell, they are able to find a turnkey chambered nautilus without even searching online. It’s an instinct, an enviable gift.
My kids and I have become experts at catching hermit crabs. I have no idea how this helps us in life, but it’s fun, and it keeps the kids out of trouble for awhile. My son Luke caught the biggest one we’ve seen yet, and we named him Hermie, mostly because Reginald the Hermit Crab sounded too pretentious.
Hermie had carefully selected an eight-inch channeled whelk shell, a sizeable piece of property in a desirable neighborhood. He had just settled out on his deck to enjoy the morning paper, when suddenly a net larger than King Kong swooped down and grabbed his entire house. Plop! He slammed down inside the cramped one-bedroom apartment of a blue plastic bucket. A dark shadow cast over the house, and Hermie bravely peeked up to see eight humongous blue eyes staring down at him.
Luke became quite attached to this crab, but I would not allow him to bring Hermie home for a pet. Hermit crabs are skilled climbers, and the thought of hearing tiny claws scuttling along the floor was too much for me to bear. Plus, there’s the whole creepy eyes thing. So Luke had this pet for less than a day, and reluctantly released him back to the ocean. “Goodbye, Hermie,” he whispered tearfully. “I hope you find a good home.” When I saw the seagulls circling overhead, I knew that Hermie’s minutes were numbered.
In that wistful moment, I was reminded that humans are much more attached to their homes than other animals. Hermit crabs are admirable in their ability to change habitats at a moment’s notice. Since they don’t have any stuff, they don’t even have to pack a suitcase, let alone a moving van. They don’t even return to visit their old shell, but simply forget about it and move on.
The ancients were commended for this same ability to look forward to a different home. They moved by faith, and they were not weighed down by the material goods of this world. God asked Abraham to leave his home, and he obeyed, even though he had no idea where he was going.
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents…
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Abraham and his descendents were looking forward to their heavenly home. They didn’t stop to think about the home they left, because they longed to move on to something better. Housed with faith, they were ready to move on to a new shell.
Between fishermen and seagulls, the odds of Hermie’s survival were not great. I have a feeling that a gull’s stomach was his final resting place. And somewhere in the middle of the deep, a new hermit crab has moved into Hermie’s old pad, but not for long.