“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
—Matthew 5:15 NIV
If you’ve ever spent any time on the Texas coast, you’ve heard of ghost crabbin’. We were first introduced to the “sport” the summer of 2015 when we ran into a friend of Mike’s in Port Aransas.
We happened to be staying in the same condos—our first night was their last, and Mike was delighted to bump into them.
“Billy! What are you doing here, man?”
Billy laughed, giving each of us a Texas-sized bear hug in turn. “I’ve got the whole family down here, buddy! We’re havin’ one last hoo-rah down at the beach tonight. Ya gotta come! There’s about twenty little ones—plenty of playmates for these hooligans.”
Nick looked uncertain as Billy tussled his hair.
“Seriously,” Billy said, stooping to my son’s level. “Ever been ghost crabbin’?”
Both of my children shook their heads.
“Then it’s settled. Y’all come on down around nine o’clock. We’re making hot dogs, smores, and as soon as that sun goes down, we’re grabbing flashlights and huntin’ ghost crabs.”
Caitlyn’s face lit up, and she looked at me as if to ask, “Can we, Mama, can we?” I nodded and smiled.
“You gotta be quick, though,” he continued, sizing the kids up. “You quick?”
“I’m the fastest runner on my whole baseball team,” boasted Nick.
“Then I expect you to get a whole lotta crabs, buddy!” Billy patted Nick on the back and this time, he didn’t squirm away.
“Nine o’clock, then?”
Nine o’clock on the dot we crossed the bridge over the dunes and scanned the beach for Billy’s group.
“There they are,” my husband pointed out, and the kids ran off, brand new shiny plastic buckets in one hand, flashlights clutched in the other.
The group greeted us warmly, offering us drinks and hot dogs. A meticulous sand castle project was underway on one side of us, a lively game of beach volleyball on the other. I sat quietly next to Mike, listening as he and Billy laughed and caught up.
By ten o’clock the group deemed it dark enough for ghost crabbing, so Billy’s oldest son rallied the troops, pointing different directions and giving instructions.
“We do this every year.”
I jumped, startled out of my reverie by a friendly voice.
Billy’s wife smiled and introduced herself.
Standing up, I returned the introduction and thanked her for her hospitality.
“We’re so glad to bump into you,” she replied graciously. “Billy has mentioned Mike many times.” She turned her gaze toward the children, then said, “I know they have flashlights, but it was making me nervous to have the kids running around in the dark, so this year I insisted they wear glow sticks.”
As if on cue, the kids started tearing open packages and cracking their sticks. They made them into headbands, bracelets, and necklaces. One boy, about thirteen, broke two and shoved a stick up each nostril.
“Look, mom, I’m a walrus,” he yelled, laughing hysterically as his mother shook her head.
Five more minutes and the kids were off. Except for a few campfires, the beach was almost completely dark. The children had grouped themselves into glowing clusters of four or five and were racing down the beach, screaming and giggling.
After chatting for a few more minutes, someone hollered for Billy’s wife, and she politely excused herself. Sitting back down, I alternated between stargazing and kid watching.
The glow sticks were truly genius. We knew precisely how many kids there were—twenty-four—and I could count exactly twenty-four sets of moving neon bands.
Call me crazy, but I think the glow stick holds some theological implications for you and me. (more…)