The Inspired Oyster

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren,Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: forthey were fishers.

And he saith unto them, "Follow me, and I will make youfishers of men."

To which Andrew replied, "That's all well and good, but what's the pay?"

Matthew 4:18-19


The Tale of the Inspired Oyster

Plans were recently unveiled to build a dozen wind turbinesin the shoal waters off Cape Haddock, a small fishing community located alongthe northeast coast. These massive turbines, each standing about 400 feet tall,would supply residents of the surrounding area with power during theseenergy-conscious times.

Residents of Cape Haddock were initially split over whetherthe proposed wind turbines would have a positive or negative impact on theseacoast community. The old town hall saw lively debate, and in the localweekly newspaper, the Haddock Herald, the editorial page published numerousletters supporting both sides of the issue.

Local fishermen saw the building of the turbines atPocketful Shoals as an affront to their livelihood, while cash-strappedresidents saw it as possible relief from ever-increasing energy bills duringthese recessionary times. But all debate and editorial writing was to endabruptly one summer day when an oysterman discovered an oyster in his rack withmarkings on the shell that clearly resembled the Virgin Mother.

Being a devout Catholic community, the pious oystermanimmediately brought his divine find to the clergy at Our Lady of the EighthSacrament church, where all agreed that the mollusk was a miracle in Ostreidaeform. News quickly spread throughout the seacoast village, and very soonresidents of Cape Haddock assembled at their church to view the blessed oyster.All agreed that the oyster, Crassostrea virginica, did indeed resemble theVirgin Mother.

During the following week, representatives from theArchdiocese made a pilgrimage to Cape Haddock to bear witness to this religiousevent, declaring that the oyster was "truly inspired."

Over the days and weeks that followed, other oystermen fromCape Haddock took a careful look at the contents of their racks, cages, andbags for any more "inspired" oysters. One man found a shell thatappeared to bear the image of Christ, although others claimed it looked morelike a bearded John Lennon from around the time of the recording of the AbbeyRoad album. Another oysterman produced twelve oysters that he claimed revealedimages of all twelve disciples, although he eventually ate the Judas oyster.While yet another claimed that he found an oyster that depicted St. Paul on theroad to Damascus, although others said it looked more like Elvis during his1969 comeback tour.

But none of these other finds quite rivaled the excitementcreated by the discovery of the Virgin Mary oyster. Soon, news of its discoverymade its way to the Vatican, where a special tribunal ruled that the waters offCape Haddock be declared a site of  "religious significance." In fact,the Pope was scheduled to visit Cape Haddock to bless the waters during hisupcoming United States visit, but that visit was cancelled when His Holinessfractured his wrist during a snowboarding vacation in Turin.

Today, the blessed "inspired" oyster of CapeHaddock rests inside a protective glass case in the vestibule at Our Lady ofthe Eighth Sacrament church, before which the pious parishioners blessthemselves prior to attending Mass on Sundays.

And today, the oystermen of Cape Haddock still farm theiroysters, occasionally discovering one that somewhat resembles one of thesaints, or one of the three wise men, or else depicts an image representing oneof the 14 Stations of the Cross (i.e. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; or,Jesus falls for the second time).

Oh, and today developers are, in fact, moving forward withtheir plans to erect wind turbines at Pocketful Shoal despite the Vatican'sdecree. It seems the developers provided funds for real estate tax abatementsfor the local residents and also presented a sizable contribution to Our Ladyof the Eighth Sacrament church in order to enlarge the rectory for Saturdaynight bingo.

Life goes on at Cape Haddock, as it has for generations offishers. Or, to quote from the conclusion of Melville's great novel, "andthe great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand yearsago."


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