They’re sitting on the floor, their eager young faces turned towards this morning’s Unitarian Universalist storyteller. She’s holding up a drawing of a red lobster. “This is what they look like once they’re cooked,” she tells them, “but in their natural state they’re a greenish colour.” One little voice pipes up, “I’ve seen them in a tank at the supermarket.” There’s a murmur of small voices before the storyteller continues.
“The lobster is an exoskeleton. Its bones are on the outside. Where are yours?”
The children rub their tummies or stretch their backs saying “inside me.”
“Yes, our bones are inside our bodies. The lobster has a really interesting way of growing bigger. I’ll bet all of you have had shoes that just got too small for you.” There are nods of assent. “And your parents bought you new shoes.” More agreement from the children.
“When the lobster grows too big for his ‘bones’ he pushes his shell out and out until it breaks right off. You can imagine how scary this is for the lobster. In this in-between stage he could very easily be eaten by a big fish. He has no protection. For a while, he has to hide under a rock so he won’t be seen. And then, a new bigger shell starts to form. This takes a while. Then finally he’s ready to resume his normal life in the water.”
We adults sing the children out to their Sunday School and our Reverend Carol Strecker continues with the adult version of the message.
Her talk could have been written just for me. The message for us adults was about the necessity of letting go our old comfort zones if we want to move forward to new growth. I listened closely. That’s what I want to do: move forward into a new way of being. I want to shed my inner protective fog. I want to be fully present in everyday life. I hope to change the way my inner space is cluttered with grumblings, critical voices, constant planning about what I need to do next and worrying about something stupid I said the other day. I want to be totally present in the here-and-now.
The morning’s events cause me to wonder if I’m in the process of shedding my old protective shell. Am I that lobster hiding out under a rock? Living alone allows for this. I wake each morning free to decide how I’ll shape the day. No human disturbs my attempts at living mindfully.
That brings me to wonder: once I shed this old shell, how will my new, bigger self look and feel?