This summer I’ve been trying to spend my evenings outdoors.
Once my 13-month-old daughter is asleep, I take the baby monitor and the dogs to the back porch where I answer the day’s last few emails to the sounds of the cicadas, crickets and robins that make their homes in our yard.
The other night I noticed a new sound amid the cacophony, however. A frantic buzzing was coming from near the sliding glass door to the living room: a bumblebee trapped in the welcome mat was flapping its wings in a frenzy, the polyester fibers of the rug wrapped around its tiny legs.
As I lunged to keep my younger, more adventurous dog from making the bumblebee his dinner, I couldn’t help but think of Susan Sparks’ article in the July/August issue of Gather.
In “Pray for the spiders,” Sparks retells the story of the time she found a spider in her bed during a vacation at a remote cabin. “I threw off the covers, screamed bloody murder and ran into the kitchen to get my husband,” she writes.
But then she remembers Jesus’ words to pray for one’s enemies. She turns to Google and learns a bit more about the spider, discovering the role it plays in God’s carefully constructed ecosystem. Rather than continue her mission to eradicate the cabin of the spider, she stops. She prays for the spider and opens her heart.
Compassion for the bumblebee
If Susan could get over her fear of the spider, I figured I might find some compassion for the bumblebee.
I retrieved the scissors from the drawer in the kitchen, knelt beside the welcome mat and carefully began clipping away at the strings holding the bumblebee in place. Slowly, methodically, I worked to free the insect, knowing all the while my only reward might be a giant sting once the bug was free.
It reminded me of another story of a spider.
In Nikki Giovani’s poem “Allowables,” she writes of a spider who surprises her when she picks up a book. Rather than pray for the spider, though Giovani reacts quickly in fear—killing the insect. Regretfully, she writes:
“I don’t think
To kill something
Because I am
Giovanni, of course, is not just talking about insects.
How many of us have passed a stalled car on the side of the road, a person asking for spare change and done nothing—having heard so many stories of all that could go wrong?
Like Susan’s prayer, my attempt to save the bumblebee was an exercise in empathy. It was an investigation of God’s creation, a realization that we all need one another.
Even if getting close is a little frightening, we were created to care for and love one another.
Where might you be letting your fear get in the way of love?