Of Ladybugs and Things

This is a little piece from a number of years back… but I thought you might enjoy it.

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Today I have ladybugs on my mind. I guess it’s because we are somewhat overcome with a flood of them lately. They are everywhere. My house has bunches, especially in the bathroom. They are even at church! (We have very devout insects in PA!)

This past Sunday morning I rushed from my Sunday School class, made a hurried stop at my office, and hastened to the sanctuary, where the worship was already in progress. Sue and I always sit on the front row, so I went as quickly and unobtrusively as I could down the side aisle to my seat. The music filled the sanctuary, and everyone was dutifully engaged in reverent praise. Immediately upon reaching my seat, I began to sing, and then… in just a moment’s time I felt that delicious and yet frightening sense of God’s awesome and glorious presence. I lifted my hands in devout and delighted worship, raised my eyes heavenward in adoration, and there… there before my joyful, tear-filled eyes was a wondrous sight. Angels? Sunbeams of divine luminescence? The Shekinah Glory of God? Saintly beatific visions?

Nope. None of these. Only… Ladybugs!

There were about six of them ambling along on the ceiling—out for a Sunday stroll, I guess.

Another half dozen were swirling around the light fixture above our heads, going round and round in concentric circles. You can imagine Sue and I standing there, on the front row, our heads spiraling around in conjunction with the overhead display. (Some visitor probably thought, “Crazy Pentecostals!”)

Still others were swooping down from the ceiling, diving at one another—engaged in mock dogfights, it seemed. Snoopy and the Red Baron, dueling right there in the air of the sanctuary, in front of the good Lord and everybody. In my mind I could hear the hum of their engines and the staccato blasts of machine gun fire strafing the pews behind me. Soon parishioners were dropping like flies (like ladybugs?)… done in by the aerial marauders who had invaded our calm Sunday morning service. Next thing you know, worshipers are throwing themselves to the ground, turning pews into bunkers and using the holy and sacred pew pens (“Thou shalt not remove these from the sanctuary”) as anti-aircraft guns, propelling ink (flak?) into the smoke-filled air and downing as many ladybugs as possible, as the acrid smell of gunfire wafts upward.

Whew! Gotta quit drinking all that coffee first thing in the morning!

Attempting to bring my distracted mind back to reality, I dropped my eyes and looked at Jerry, our pastor, leading the worship service. Okay, I have to focus on spiritual things. This is the Lord’s house. It is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. It was time to worship. I close my eyes and sing. And just when I begin to once again feel worshipful, I open my eyes to see (honest—this is true) a ladybug buzzing the top of Jerry’s head. Zzoooorrrroooommm! It dived down, right across his face, barely missing his nose. And Jerry… well Jerry was oblivious to it all! (More spiritually focused than I, I should say.) Unconscious regarding the mortal attack that he had just barely survived, he continued singing: “I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away….”

That’s all it took. My mind was racing again. It is 1963 and Alfred Hitchcock is directing his latest venture: The Bugs. The camera is focused on a close up shot of an attractive blond woman in a telephone booth. She is so intent on her conversation that she doesn’t see what is happening behind her. The camera pans back. One by one ladybugs land on the telephone polls, the roofs of cars, the gutters of buildings. Soon there is a flock (swarm? pack? herd?) of maniacally intent ladybugs surrounding the phone booth, all set on mischief to any and all humans. Then, in sudden whoosh, they attack…

Such was my Sunday morning!

I have a question for you: Why is a ladybug called a “lady” bug? I think I know. What true-blue, red-blooded, genuine person of the masculine persuasion would clothe himself completely in a polka dot outfit? Gotta be a ladybug, for sure!

Now, understand… I like ladybugs. They are cute, if you can call an insect cute.

Thinking on this, what makes ‘em cute? Let’s consider the possibilities… Hmmmm. What makes ladybugs cute? Well, those polka dots, for one thing. And the bright colors—their fire-engine red backs with the bold black dots. Quite fashionable, I should say. And their size—sorta dainty looking.

They are not like spiders or ants or water bugs. These critters seem all legs and antennae and segmented body parts; creepy appendages sticking out here and there—all you can see is legs and joints and creaky exoskeletal sections. Yuck!

But lady bugs are pleasant to behold. They are nature’s minimalist art—walking exhibitions that rival Mondrian or Frank Lloyd Wright. You barely notice their little legs. They discretely fold their wings up, tucking ‘em inside their polka dot dresses. They look like little buttons—ambulatory buttons, true—but buttons, still. Harmless. Modest. Sincere, even. Simple creatures that lead simple lives. They seem most content with their lot in life.

Perhaps a lesson is to be found here for us. Harmlessness. Modesty. Sincerity. Simplicity. Contentment. Qualities not too evident in most of our society—and, if the truth be told, in most of our lives. How many of us really live simply?

Perhaps we should read again the Apostle’s words in 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

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