The promise of a larger life and a soul inspired future is poignantly illustrated in the following children’s story, Grasper the Crab by Paul Own Lewis. Grasper teaches us that in order to grow and experience wonder, we have to be willing to take risks and listen to our own inner voice.
Grasper, a sweet, young crab, lives near the rocks with many other fellow crabs. Together, they spend their days scavenging for bits of food and staying close to the place they think of as home. Then one day something peculiar happens to Grasper, as he begins to feel quite strange, as if he no longer fits inside his small body. Suddenly the world around him seems different. Trying to grasp what’s happening, Grasper looks beside himself to see that his shell has split: now, instead of being on him, it is lying on the ground next to him. Grasper is shocked and scared to see a perfect silhouette of his crab body—arms, legs, eyes, and all—lying there beside him.
It isn’t long before the other members of Grasper’s tight-knit community of crabs have gathered in a circle around him. They explain to Grasper that his shell has just molted, and they caution him that weird things will begin to happen if he isn’t careful. They tell Grasper that the period of time before his new shell hardens is very dangerous, and they warn him not to listen to the voices that will soon be filling his head. They tell him that he may want to explore places he’s never seen before and may even be inclined to look beyond the rocks where they live. Grasper is perplexed.
Grasper hears what all the frightened crabs are telling him, and even though he wants desperately to fit in, belong, and please all his friends and family members, he is called by a higher voice and begins listening to and following his urge to explore the world outside of what he knows. Trusting his feelings, Grasper crawls out from behind the rocks where he has safely spent all of his life and ventures into new, unknown territory. All the while his friends are screaming, “Stop, Grasper! It’s not safe out there!”
But when Grasper reaches the top of the rocks, he can’t believe what he sees. Everything is colorful and bright. There are large, beautiful fish and lots of food to eat. It’s a magical sight unlike any he has ever seen, and Grasper is filled with excitement. Then, coming out from behind a rock, Grasper comes face to face with a giant crab. It is the biggest crab Grasper has ever seen. When he asks the crab how he got so large, the crab explains to Grasper that the same thing will happen to him if he continues to grow and molt and allows himself to give up the life and the self that he knows. But Grasper can’t believe this explanation because all the crabs he knows are as small as he is. The giant crab explains to Grasper that a crab grows only as large as the world he lives in, and as big as the heart inside him. He says, “You must have a big heart to live in a big world.”
Grasper is mystified. He’s been taught that to be safe in the world he must have a hard shell and a hard heart. But now he sees that if he wants to reach his full potential and grow into a giant crab, he will have to expand his horizons. Grasper will have to allow his heart to stay soft, for a hard heart can’t grow.
Grasper is now faced with the biggest challenge of his life. His past is telling him that it would be safer to harden his heart and return to his familiar little home by the rocks. But the process of molting and softening has changed Grasper. He no longer wants just to survive. He longs to break free from the small world he has lived in and to swim out into the vast ocean to see who he will become.