Our oldest son, Christopher, and his wife, Elizabeth, treated us to a rare delicacy this last weekend (at least rare for us). As a belated birthday dinner for Marti, he went out and got his mother her favorite food — whole, live, Maine lobster — four big whoppers, still wriggling and snapping their tails. The last time I can remember live lobster was probably 20 years ago when we lived in New England.
We lived less than 30 minutes from Maine then, and just across the state line was a lobster shack, and in the summertime we would go up there and pick out a couple monsters. They were plentiful and inexpensive. Literally hundreds of these things were swimming around in big tanks. You could pick out your own critter and they would pop him in a pot and 20 minutes later you were tearing at the claws, breaking open the tail, and sucking the delicate meat out of their tiny legs. (Christopher and Anne liked that part the best.) The place was really a shack with a bunch of picnic tables out back, and all they gave you to go with the lobster was a bib, some corn on the cob, and a roll of paper towels. At night, I imagine they just hose down the place.
Marti’s parents used to live in Maine and I can remember lobster races across their kitchen floor with Christopher and Anne cheering on their respective contestants. We actually tried to get a couple of them going in Christopher and Beth’s kitchen the other night, but these guys were too tuckered out from the flight from the east coast to be interested in racing. Must have been the time change. They just sat there, twitching their feelers and acting like they were anxious to get on with the inevitable.
The rub came when we realized we had four lobsters for five people. Of course birthday girl got her own. There was never a question about that. Nor did she offer to share, which was unusual because she generally does not care about food; except this wasn’t food, it was lobster that was alive half an hour ago. You guys figure it out; this one’s mine! The rest of us, Christopher, Chandler, Beth and me, had three crusty guys between us, and you know, it wasn’t a big deal. We didn’t even try splitting them up. It just kind of worked out. “Who wants a claw?” “Beth, here, have half a tail.” “Chandler, you don’t want that leg? I’ll eat it.” And because the meat is so rich, we were all stuffed in the end. No one could eat any more if they wanted to.
There’s a lot to say for ownership and responsibility which entails dividing things up so everyone has their own. There is also a lot to say for sharing. This country’s economy is built on everybody having their own. The kingdom of God has a lot to say about sharing. The early church had everything in common. Not that we should sell everything and move to a commune in Arizona, but I need to think like what’s mine is yours, and you need to think like what’s yours is mine. That’s the way it should be. Besides, when you share, you spend more time together, and you get closer to each other.
“Who wants a claw?”