It was five A.M. I headed toward my magic chair for quiet time. Pale first light came through the window, and there was a little shimmer from the aquarium. Our new carpet felt wonderful on my bare feet. And then I saw a small dark something on the carpet in the middle of the room. I reached to pick it up, rejoicing in how easy it is to keep this new carpet clean.
The thing wriggled in my hand – something scaly or crusty! I screamed and threw it back onto the floor with some force! I ran across the room to get a tissue to pick it up, and as I turned I saw that it was trying to scurry for cover. I had an awful idea what it was. Yesterday we had our regular yard spraying for fleas and assorted bugs, and I was pretty sure one of those horrible black oriental water bugs had sought refuge in our house.
I shuddered as I headed toward the bathroom with the wadded up tissue. I’d give the creepy creature a one way cruise! Then I glanced down at the tissue and saw a small claw sticking out. A claw? I was dumfounded. I opened the tissue; and there was Arthur Fiedler, our cute little fiddler crab! Somehow he had gotten out of the aquarium.
I ran into the kitchen and filled a drinking glass with water and dumped the little guy in. There was no room for him to do his customary sideways shuffle, but he tried. He ended up going around in circles. He seemed to be rehydrating. I was relieved to see lots of little bubbles coming from his nose or mouth or gills or whatever fiddler crabs breathe with. He was going to be okay.
But his fiddle claw had become detached and lay forlornly in the tissue.
After a few minutes he seemed as if he’d like to be active if he wasn’t so confined. I took him over to the aquarium and opened the top and gave him a gentle waterfall ride home.
Why in the world had Arthur run away from home? A fiddler crab the size of a nickel in a 60 gallon aquarium. Such freedom of wide open spaces! He has a lovely little fiberglass castle to live under, and a beautiful Greek Pavilion where he likes to hang out. Every morning abundant food rains down from heaven – so to speak. He has his friend, Nat King Crab, and eleven peaceful tropical fish for company. I hope they will still maintain peaceful relations with the poor little clawless crab. (I wonder if Fiddler crabs grow new claws?)
There are always consequences when we are determined to be willful and go our own way. We’ll hope Arthur’s claw grows back, and that he remembers the lesson of the dry brown carpet on the other side of the fence.
I’ve seen this parable before. It’s the story of Gypsy, the dog in Vanuken’s A Severe Mercy. I saw it with our desert tortoise, Shelly, who went through an escape artist stint. I’ve read about it in the Gospels and, alas, I’ve seen it in my own life.
I’ve learned that there’s restoration, and there’s grace…but the bottom line is, there’s no place like home!
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4