This week’s post has been written by a guest – Lynne Griffiths.
As I stood in the garden the other day, about to bury the ashes of our latest departed and much loved family pet, I found myself using it as an opportunity to again explain to my son what I believe about death and the afterlife. We talked about how when a person or animal dies their “spirit/soul/personality” leaves the body and goes on to continue to live elsewhere (we believe in heaven) and the physical body becomes just like an empty shell. My son nodded and the fleeting conversation was over as quickly as it had begun. However, last night, watching a programme involving a funeral, he piped up that the body was in the casket but that the spirit of the person wasn’t there. He had indeed listened and I found myself quite proud of him that he had understood the concept I’d tried to explain.
Perhaps it was that conversation that made me wake early this morning and then doze on and off having the most interesting conversation with myself. I found myself thinking about death, the journey to the spiritual life and crabs. Hermit crabs, to be exact!. A hermit crab lives its life in a shell. It is used for protection from scavengers, but it doesn’t just stay in the same shell. As the hermit crab grows through its life it changes shells; it chooses which shell will protect and fit it the best and moves from one shell to another. I believe this can happen several times. The crab’s journey through life takes many different physical forms and each shell is what it feels it needs at that stage of its life.
As humans I don’t think we are that different to the hermit crab. Admittedly we don’t have a physical outer shell to change, but we do change through life. If we could have an outer shell I feel we’d change it frequently. Instead we change our jobs, our friends, sometimes even our location or contact with family. But whilst we change all of these outward things, do we actually change inside or are we just changing our “shell”?
As I thought about death and the movement of our souls and spirits into the heavenly realm I saw it clearly as leaving our outward “shell” (body) behind and moving to a place where we take a differing form (a new shell) and leave the old one behind. We continue to exist but in a different format. Perhaps our new shell will be even better than the one we’ve left behind. I certainly believe that when we leave this earthly world we leave behind the constraints of our body and are no longer in pain or suffering. It got me thinking as to what our new “shell” will be like in heaven. I think I concluded that I’d like something understated with lovely pastel colours if it had to take a physical form.
The analogy of death being like a hermit crab’s journey comforts me somehow – we’ve only moved from one shell to another – the journey hasn’t stopped but just taken a different format…
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