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Gentle Virtues


07/01/2008 - On the Olympic Peninsula, west of Tacoma, Washington, Randy Watts parks his motorcycle above the beach and looks for a place to camp. He gathers drift logs and lays them across big, talll boulders. He ties a tarp over the drift logs and anticipates a good night's sleep.

In the middle of the night, while the tide is coming in, he hears scratching sounds. Marine crabs are scratching on his air mattress. Some scurry across his legs. So much for a good night's sleep!

A few years pass and he marries his wife, Tami. One night, shortly after their honeymoon, he is awakened by his young wife. She says, "Randy, I can't get to sleep. And it's no fair that you sleep while I can't. Stay up with me!"

Now he lost one night of sleep to some marine crabs; he wasn't about to lose another night's sleep to his crabby wife. With one eye partly opened, he set the facts straight by stating, "You, too, can have some good sleep if you choose to forgive." Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

Crabbiness. It can ruin a good night's sleep. It can also ruin good relationships. Look with me at the baseword of crabbiness. In the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, "crab" as a noun is described as an "ill-tempered person". As a verb we get unbecoming descriptions such as "sour"; "so make sullen"; "spoil, ruin" and "to complain about peevishly".

It's Latin root base means "to scratch, to scrape". When we are crabby, we don't hold in our irritability. We react. We "scratch and scrape" at those around us.

The Latin root word for fret, "rado", also means "to scrape". When we fret, we are affecting others. Our fretting drives them away. It is their self-defense to our self-centeredness.

I had to learn early in my marriage that crabbiness would not bring marital bliss but honest, humble confessions and forgiveness would. I'm thankful for my husband confronting me. It was effective even with him having only one eye half opened.

I'm still tempted "to scratch and to scrape" and sometimes I still do but it's not for long. The ill-tempered nature of crabbiness has its ill effects. I prefer to make the effort it takes to be happy and to be at peace with those around me. How about you?

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