IVP - Strangely Dim - A Short Reflection on a Little Cicada

July 4, 2007

A Short Reflection on a Little Cicada

Last night was so lovely that I couldn't stay inside, so I took a walk around the suburban neighborhood that I live in. Families were eating outside, dogs were roaming their respective yards, and joggers and fellow walkers were everywhere. It was, uncharacteristically, a quiet night.

Except for the quiet flap-flap-flapping I heard as I walked down Washington street. Over the voices of a father talking with his two sons, I heard a sound that has become too familiar to me over the past month--the flapping was coming from a cicada that had fallen on its back and could not turn over. The more frustrated the cicadas become, the harder they flap their veined wings in an attempt to right themselves. But because of the cicada infestation that we have had in our area, I have become immune to the sound of their struggle. Most dead cicadas I see on the sidewalks are on their backs, and you begin to realize that death, whether it comes as a shock or a frustrated struggle, comes to all of these creatures eventually. It is, to be honest, a great relief. I was afraid they would go on infesting our town forever.

But yesterday evening, a strange sense of pity came over me when I heard the flap-flapping of the cicada on Washington Street. The bug had, apparently, fallen out of the overhanging tree into the middle of the street, and I knew that he would not survive long on the playground floor of suburbia. I tried to ignore my emotions and continued walking, telling myself that it was one cicada out of thousands that died every day. Still, once I ventured far enough to be free of the incessant flapping noise, I felt--how else do I explain it?--I felt sad. I know it sounds sappy (and I am not a bug person), but I knew that I was probably the only person in the entire world who even thought about that particular cicada and the ominous death awaiting it on Washington Street.

So I turned around, walked back to the flapping bug, and gently rolled it over with my sandal. The cicada immediately quieted itself and began crawling, still in the middle of the street. While I didn't know if it would live, I knew I had offered the creature what I could.

And then, as I watched the bug move, I began thinking about God, about how he never even thinks about leaving me flapping in the middle of the street. He is always gently overturning my life, righting me even when I fail to realize it.

So even cicadas can sometimes remind us of God's goodness. And somehow, his unfailing presence with us. Flap.

Posted by Ann Swindell at July 4, 2007 8:00 AM Bookmark and Share


Beautiful thoughts. I'm not a bug person either, but seeing any creature suffer needlessly isn't my idea of fun.

Comment by: llama momma at July 9, 2007 6:23 AM

Thanks, llama momma. It's true--there's even something about bugs that can create in us non-bug-lovers a sense of pity and perhaps even concern from time to time. Miracles do still happen!

Comment by: Ann Swindell at July 9, 2007 9:02 AM

This post really moved me. Thank you for sharing it.

Comment by: Christianne at July 19, 2007 7:01 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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