Recently, Cindy and I attended a special retreat at the Transforming Center (no we’re not “transformed” quite yet, this takes time…like a lifetime) at a Franciscan monastery just outside Chicago. We heard great speakers like Ruth Haley Barton and Robert Mulholland speak on “For the Sake of Others.” The focus of the teaching was that spiritual formation or contemplative practices are not so we can be “navel gazers” but rather “radically abandoned to God in order that we can be radically available to others.”
Mulholland taught on the concept of “cruciform love,” that the true character of God was expressed more powerfully through the cross of Christ than any other event in history. As we gaze upon the cross, we will see God more clearly and be able to see others more like He sees them.
I returned to my room after the morning session on Monday and noticed some little bugs that I had not taken the time to “see” since I was a child full of wonder at the world. It may have been a “coincidence” but in my new way of seeing things I choose not to believe in coincidences. This little bug with “her” (not all of them are female) companions had come into my room uninvited.
Almost without thinking I wanted to pick the ladybug up, put her in my open hand and say, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly, fly away.” Why didn’t I want to squish this bug like any other species of bug I would find in the room?
As a little child I was taught that these little creatures were “good” and they deserved our respect and support on their life journey. They were to be appreciated with their bright red bodies and black spots. They were to be watched with joy as they flew away.
A little curious now, I decided to go online and find out something about ladybugs. I discovered that they eat harmful soft-bodied bugs that suck the juices out of plants. A ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day! There are almost 500 species of ladybugs in North America and over 5,000 species in the world! In Europe during the Middle Ages they were experiencing a pestilence of bugs destroying their crops and the Catholic farmers cried out to God and the Virgin Mary for help.
Soon ladybugs appeared and came to the rescue and the crops were saved. They were since called “Beetles of Our Lady.” The wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots her joys and sorrows. They saw in every ladybug “a little savior of their life-giving sustenance."
So, I reflected about the way I was taught to see the ladybug as opposed to other bugs. I didn’t ignore them or abhor them. I valued them and respected them, even sent them on their way with a gentle puff on the palm of my hand. What a picture for me in how I need to see others who come into my life uninvited. I instinctively often ignore, see as insignificant, or I criticize, judge and seek to distance myself from them.
This is not how Jesus sees them or me. I want to see others more like that. I can’t manufacture this change in myself but I can admit that I am not there yet and ask that He lead me progressively into His perspective. I am a slow learner but I long to follow Him on this joyful journey.
Looking to the Lord of the Ladybug,
Note: Do you have any stories of God’s Glory showing up in the ordinary? I would love to hear them and share them with a larger audience if you would like! Just email me at (JNBohnett@aol.com)
If you are receiving this and would like to receive my blog, “Glory In The Ordinary” sent to your email about 2-3 times a month on the theme of seeing God in the “ordinariness” of everyday life just email me at (JNBohnett@aol.com) and I would be happy to have you join me on this journey.