Gay and I were taking our morning walk when I became conscious of a very familiar mid-summer sound, that of cicadas. When we returned from our walk, one of the little creatures was waiting for us on a brick cornice beside the front door. The cicadas certainly had captured my attention!
Like many of you, I grew up hearing the sound of cicadas in the trees of my yard. Perhaps it is because I became accustomed to that sound at an early age, but I find it both familiar and comforting. However, this is not the case with some people.
An American pastor was traveling to England on an ocean liner a few years after the Second World War. He and an English-man struck up a conversation. The pastor learned that the Englishman had lived in London during the war and experienced the terror of Nazi air raids. After the war, he moved to Missouri but was now returning home. He liked living in America but was returning to England because the sound of cicadas was driving him mad. Here was a man who had lived through the horrors of war, air raid sirens, bomb shelters, children running for their lives, and exploding bombs in London, but he was unable to live with the sound of a bug.
Sometimes it’s the little things that get to us, isn’t it? We often find strength to rise above the big things – a major illness, the death of a loved one, financial woes, loss of a job. But some little things try our patience – a shoelace that won’t stay tied, some grammatical error, a musical selection, a splinter in a finger, someone else’s annoying habit.
Jesus reminds us to pay attention to the little things – a coin, a pearl, a weed, a widow, an orphan, a hurt. If we are alert and receptive, we may recognize the hand of God at work in the unexpected places and experiences, even the ones that annoy us. God's reign also extends to those places.
The writer of Proverbs also gives us a word of wisdom in dealing with small things:
Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people without strength, yet they provide their food in the summer; the badgers are a people without power, yet they make their homes in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. (Proverbs 30:24-28)
May God give us grace to remain spiritually grounded and alert to the divine presence, especially when some little thing has claimed our attention!
P.S. - Here's a fascinating video about the life cycle of the 17 year cicada. I've never seen them in such numbers. The Englishman probably did and that's what got to him. Don't watch it if you are seriously bothered by bugs.