A Fable for Our Community

I wrote recently about sinking. Sinking FAST. And slowly, sometimes, too. And being generally out of mental oxygen and how it feels to emotionally drown, which isn’t, it turns out, just a privilege reserved for those of us who are clinically depressed. And then we spent this week mired in depression talk. It makes me feel tired and sad and a little triggery, which isn’t an adjective but should be. Because pffttt. You know? Just pfffttttt. 

Then I remembered a fable my friend, Becky, read to our group of local churches about the hard work of Love, because we’ve been getting the whole Love thing really right and horribly wrong, back and forth and sometimes all at once, as though we’re just utterly human.

Loving God.

Loving each other.

The work of community. 

And I know you and I may have different thoughts about God. No problem. I LOVE this about us. It’s one of my favorite things. We’re a diverse community around here, and all are welcome. As I’ve said before, this space will never be about conversion, because that’s neither my interest, nor my job.

But we will always be about the work of Love here. And the work of being our truest, deepest, most wild and wonderful selves.. And the work of finding our Village. And the work of being community to each other. Community. Come unity.

Which is why I give us this fable today, because it is, for this moment, the very best image of community I can imagine.

The Lobster and the Crab
from Fables by Arnold Lobel

On a stormy day, the Crab went strolling along the beach. He was surprised to see the Lobster preparing to set sail in his boat.

“Lobster,” said the Crab, “it is foolhardy to venture out on a day like this.”

“Perhaps so,” said the Lobster, “but I love a squall at sea!”

“I will come with you,” said the Crab. “I will not let you face such danger alone.”

The Lobster and the Crab began their voyage. Soon they found themselves far from shore. Their boat was tossed and buffeted by the turbulent waters.

“Crab!” shouted the Lobster above the roar of the wind. “For me, the splashing of the salt spray is thrilling! The crashing of every wave takes my breath away!”


“Lobster, I think we are sinking!” cried the Crab.

“Yes, of course, we are sinking,” said the Lobster. “This old boat is full of holes. Have courage, my friend. Remember, we are both creatures of the sea.”

The little boat capsized and sank.

“Horrors!” cried the Crab.

“Down we go!” shouted the Lobster.

The Crab was shaken and upset. The Lobster took him for a relaxing walk along the ocean floor.

“How brave we are,” said the Lobster. “What a wonderful adventure we have had!”

The Crab began to feel somewhat better. Although he usually enjoyed a quieter existence, he had to admit that the day had been pleasantly out of the ordinary.


I love this, because I think it sums up all of friendship and all of Love.

The crab, who is afraid, saying, “I will come with you. I will not let you face such danger alone.”

And then the sinking, which, it turns out, is so much a part of this life.

“Lobster, I think we are sinking!” cried the Crab.

“Yes, of course, we are sinking,” said the Lobster. “This old boat is full of holes. Have courage, my friend. Remember, we are both creatures of the sea.”

Listen. Life is just full of peril, isn’t it? Leaky boats full of holes in turbulent waters. And we – all of us – feel at one point or another like we’re going to drown. Sinking fast. On our way to the bottom of the sea, which is where our imperfection lives, and our inadequacies are on display, and we fear we may be found out. We forget, of course, that facing our humanity and sinking into who we really are is always part of finding our way home. And that we don’t go it alone. Not into the storm. Not down with the ship. We go there together. And we find ourselves home.

Have courage today, friends. We may be sinking, but we are creatures of the sea.

Down we go!


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4 responses to “A Fable for Our Community”

  1. I definitely read those first sentences as, “I wrote recently about sTinking. STinking FAST.” I thought absolutely nothing of it because I’m sure you have written recently about stinking also.

  2. If you haven’t listened to The Wood Song by the Indigo Girls, it says this exactly. With harmonies.

    Now I see we’re in the boat in two by twos
    only the heart that we have for a tool we could use
    and the very close quarters are hard to get used to
    love weighs the hull down with its weight…
    Yeah, but what it takes to cross the great divide
    seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside
    Although we get to have some answers when we reach the other side
    the prize is always worth the rocky ride.
    But the wood is tired and the wood is old
    and we’ll make it fine if the weather holds
    but if the weather holds we’ll have missed the point
    that’s where I need to go.

  3. I’m far from family and my boat has been full of holes lately. Marriage on the rocks, husband relapsed three times when our son arrived. Feel so alone. Thanks for making me laugh, smile, and be a little less alone even though we have never met. Your wit and humor and heart help me stay strong. Along with a heavy dose of Psych, Firefly, and Gilmore Girls. Also highly recommend the Vicar of Dibley. I’m one of your non-religious followers but oh she makes me laugh and being kind, thoughtful and funny is great for everyone. That and a smile and hug from my amazing son keeps me going every day. Here’s to calmer waters. Thanks again.

  4. This reminds me of a scripture in Isaiah that says “When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze”


    Anyway, this doesn’t say IF you pass through the waters and IF you walk through fire, but WHEN. It is to be EXPECTED and not feared. We will have down times, we will feel like we are drowning, it is simply part of LIFE.

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