One Sunday this November while sitting in worship, I noticed a ladybug crawling along the cushion of my pew. It’s getting colder out and the last of the Asian variety of Ladybugs are migrating indoors to overwinter. Our church is an old building with many easy points of access for ladybugs.
I grew up in a church where ladybugs gathered for the winter. Often by the hundreds. It was all at once whimsical and annoying. I was the church janitor in an old rural church. We were an often warm building on the edge of an open field and small stand of trees. It was neat to see a lady bug crawling on the pews during worship, but also tedious to be the janitor who had to vacuum the dead ones up EVERY WEEK.
In my recent experience, it was whimsy and joy. I allowed the creature to crawl onto my finger and let it crawl around on my hand for several minutes while something was happening in worship. Pretty sure it was announcements or prayers, or maybe a sermon. Something more somber than energized. This made me think of worshiping in and with creation. This creature was probably on its last leg of life, and will soon die. Yet, it taught me, and reminded my of our shared space in this place, even in what we might say is our space.
It also reminds me that in rural communities our lives and the life of the creation which surrounds us are integrally connected. Insects such as lady bugs help control the aphids which often destroy crops. They also serve as a primary food source for other animals. The speckled shiny little creatures. Furthermore, according to Ladybuglady.com, they are named in honor of the Virgin Mary. When insects where destroying crops in Europe in the late middle ages, many people prayed to the Virgin Mary to rescue them from this plight. The ladybugs came and ate the crop destroying insects, and the farmers began calling the saving insects, “Beetles of Our Lady.” Eventually they became ladybeetles or ladybugs. Rural communities should embrace and celebrate the value of beneficial insects, even so much as welcoming them into their worship space, even if they can get annoying.
I’m thinking of writing up a series of lesson plans around insects, trees, etc. Hopefully publishable or shareable (at least).