On Saturday after the funeral of my nun’s mom, I spent some time at the ocean, ran some errands, and had dinner with all of my IHM sisters who were in town. Our flights back to the midwest didn’t leave until Sunday morning so we had some time to hang out and be together. Some of the nuns hiked down to Villa Maria, ocean home of the Immaculata IHMs (I’ve mentioned this place before in a post about the Nun’s Beach Surf Invitational) and some sat by the fire with a good book. I personally decided to wandered aimlessly on the beach. It’s not often that I’m at the ocean and I always marvel at its vastness, its wildness. As I walked along the water’s edge I saw lots of sandpipers and sea gulls. There were also all manner of creatures — tiny shells and big shells indicating the creature that had made the shell its home.

Later in the evening we had our dinner together. One of the nuns brought in some shells which she had checked to be sure no one was living in them. We had a great time chit-chatting, talking nun stuff, and remembering our sister’s mom Virginia. It was well past 9 when we had cleaned up. One of my nuns and I were just about done when I noticed the shells still on the table. I went over to look at them, picked one up, and YELPED! A tiny little hermit crab dropped out of one of the shells! He (or she) was no bigger than a dime. He must have really been tucked into a shell because we had no idea he was there until he dropped out. My other nun Mary Bea came over and looked at the little guy. He was moving around, but not too steadily.

What were we to do? Of course, we had to take him back to the ocean. I felt so bad for the little guy. He was probably freaked out from everything he heard from us IHMs, not unlike the proverbial fly on the wall (ha! the birth of a new cliche! “boy, wouldn’t I like to be a crab in a shell at that conversation!”).

So it’s pretty darn dark outside but my nun and I are on a mission. We must save the hermit crab. I didn’t even know if he’d live very long but I knew if he was going to die, he’d die at home by the ocean. Mary Bea and I put our little crab friend on the cover of the hummus container from dinner, surrounded him with shells so he could take his pick of home, and headed to the ocean.

I actually know a thing or two about hermit crabs because of my two nephews, but I felt woefully inept at caring for this little creature that had literally fallen into my hands.

So with great care, we headed out to the ocean, picking our way over sand dunes and heading for the sound of crashing waves. The only light we had was the eerie glow from my cell phone screen which I used to make sure the little guy was still with us. When we got to the shore, we found a suitable place in the sand to place the hermit crab. We again surrounded him with shells to protect him and hoped that he’d crawl back into one of them. I said a little prayer of blessing for the hermit crab. And then we stood up, and lo and behond, there were STARS! Stars, stars, and more stars. All around us were stars. After a few minutes of staring at the night sky, my eyes would begin to pick out a whole other layer of stars, deeper and deeper into the universe. It was quite spectacular.

Mary Bea and I bid adieu to our hermit crab friend and headed back across the sand to our place of residence. It was a night that I will not soon forget.