My daughter loves cats. We have, however, lived in apartments since having been forced from our four-bedroom house at Nashotah. That means we’ve been at the mercy of various landlords for our choice of allowable animal comfort. Most landlords disallow cats and dogs, so we’ve gone the route of caged or terrarium pets. Birds, reptiles, and arthropods are fascinating but hardly cuddly. All three taxes share the phenomenon of molting, and once out of their artificial environments they are also all difficult to get back in. Our current non-embraceable companions are hermit crabs.
If early Christians had known of hermit crabs, I am sure they would have used them as symbols of the resurrection. (They could have used Baal as well, but that was a non-starter I’m afraid.) Our adventure began in a mall. The salesman told us, in broken English, that they would live two or three years, with proper care. We purchased one and were chagrined when it died shortly after, just when my daughter was hosting her cousin for a week-long visit during the summer. Shocked and tear-stained, we went back to the mall for a replacement crab. Later that week, crab number one (Sparky by name) suddenly reappeared. What we assumed was the corpse of Sparky was only his (or her – I have no idea how to tell) molted exoskeleton. It hung limply out of the shell like a deflated crab, but inside a new incarnation was preparing its epiphany.
This drama has enacted itself many times. This past week Sparky’s companion really died. Since the crabs are not the center of attention during the holiday season, I was the only one with this esoteric knowledge. The pile of legs and vacant shell were a little gruesome, but tucked into the corner of an out-of-the-way aquarium, they attracted no other attention. I resolved to bury the little guy. Today as I prepared to take care of his crustacean cadaver, I was astounded to find him (or her) alive and well and inhabiting a different shell. Resurrection. Our crabs have outlasted their projected livelihoods and are into their sixth year with us. Every time one dies, he (or she) comes back. If they couldn’t use Baal or Adonis, early Christians might well have caught on to the symbolism of the humble hermit crab.