Today’s Word from Deacon Amy…

In the past two weeks, I’ve come across two very surprising insects on our cozy little island. One that I’ve never even heard of, and one that I’ve never seen outside of a zoo or pet store.

The first caught my family by surprise, hiding under a pile of rocks in our back yard. Some internet research led me to the conclusion that we’d found an invasive insect with a rather creepy name. The Devil’s Coach Horse is native to the UK but has now made its home in several U.S. states. As its name suggests, this is one nasty little critter. What first caught our attention was that when confronted, the elongated beetle curled its back end up and took on a scorpion-like pose. He had rather daunting pinchers on either side of his face as well. This was not a bug that we wanted to mess with. (I’ll let you search Google for images on your own).

Being that this is 2020, we weren’t too surprised to find such a menacing creature in our backyard. I suppose we should just be thankful that it wasn’t a Murder Hornet. It seems this year just keeps throwing new challenges at us.

The second insect that I encountered last week was just as surprising, but not nearly as off-putting. As I was hurrying into the church building one morning, I had to stop to inspect a surprisingly large green insect on the wall outside the door. There, to my delight, was a Praying Mantis! I had to do a double take. I didn’t even know that they lived in this area! A little internet research revealed that they do, indeed, inhabit the Pacific Northwest. I learned, too, that they can be beneficial, devouring smaller insects that plague our gardens. Who knew!

This bright little friend hung out on the back wall of the building throughout the day and was even here to greet us the next morning. By lunchtime that day, though, he had moved on to who knows where. The Trinity staff and visitors enjoyed his presence while he was here.

Perhaps he was a reminder to slow down, take a moment, and enjoy all of the good things that surround us. This year has had more than its fair share of challenges, to be sure, but there is still good to be found. The Devil’s Coach Horse was not a pleasant surprise, but the Praying Mantis sure was.

I know I mentioned two visitors – but there was a third, just yesterday. Although not an insect, I tend to lump slugs into that category. They are certainly not a favorite, but this particular slug was an artist. There, on the sidewalk outside the church, drawn in slimy residue, was an exact image of a snail! Curled up shell, long neck, and two perfect antennae! The artist, after completing his life’s work, had shriveled up and died. His lifeless body lay next to his masterpiece. Perhaps another reminder to slow down and take in the sometimes surprising beauty around us.

All of these early fall visitors bring to mind Mary Oliver’s poem, “A Summer Day,”

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Enjoy your wild and precious life, my friends! Take time to find the newness, the strangeness, and the beauty around you.

Deacon Amy