Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Green ladybugs!

The air was cool and crisp, the skies were gray, and rain was in the forecast. A perfect Grey Day to go to the beach! 

On a recent excursion to the beach, I noticed green flecks along the shore. I assumed it was bird poop or algae mixed in with the sand and proceeded to wade in the water for a bit. 

That’s when I spotted a bug flailing on its back, inches from the waves hitting the shore. Little black legs grabbing onto nothingness. I turned it right side up, trying to get it to crawl on my finger but it refused. I ended up scooping the sand from underneath its body and moved the insect to nearby safety. 

It appeared to be a ladybug…a green ladybug! Yes, you read that right. Green! 

 A lovely shade of green!

And it wasn’t the only one either. Within my immediate area, those green flecks I noticed earlier were more of the same. Literally hundreds of green ladybugs, sluggish from the cold, inching their way onto whatever stray sticks or grass they could find. 

This scene stretched along the entire shore which meant there must’ve been thousands of them! 

 What the what???

Did I just discover a new type of species? Nope. I looked it up online and these “green ladybugs” are actually called cucumber beetles. Who knew! 

 Sand art I found while examining the beetles.

On such a cold day (it was in the upper 40’s with the wind), what were the cucumber beetles doing here of all places? Why the beach? They wouldn’t be laying eggs so close to the water. 

Perhaps this was a final, mass migration before the colder weather did them in. Maybe they all said, “Hey, if we’re gonna die, let’s live it up on the beach one last time!” 

Whatever the reason, it was an unexpected and welcome display of green. 

Rest in peace, “green ladybugs”. Until your return next spring!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Finding Jesus at the beach.

I haven't gone to church-church (aka mass) in about six months. Every Sunday that would roll around, I was either working my old retail job or visiting family or it just didn't seem right. 

My anxiety with large crowds is ever-present and even though mass itself is a welcoming, all-inclusive event, it can still be overwhelming to me. I feel worshiping God is a private, personal act. It can be hard focusing on Him when around so many others. 

I found the sermons to be lackluster and generic in their message. I'd be going through the motions of the mass but not connecting with what was being preached to me. And I got tired of going to church to pray for the same things. To finally meet someone, for something better in my life, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. Certainly God knows what's in my heart by now. 

So over the summer, when my anxiety would get the better of me, and church wasn't an option, I'd go for a walk. I would walk along the lakefront path near where I live to the beach two neighborhoods north of me. I went once or twice a week, every weekend, usually as the sun would begin to set. 

It's about a forty-five minute trek and during that time I'd smile at the trees and tell the wildflowers along the path that they were beautiful. Cloud formations evolved overhead and cool breezes kissed my skin and I admired families being together in the distance. 

The destination always ended with me at the beach. I'd take my shoes off when I reached the sand and be born again once my feet touched the water. Mmmmmmm. A religious experience all its own. In the grandness of the lake and sky, there was a sense of something much bigger and more important than myself. 

If God made all of this, wouldn't it be logical that He'd be there too? 

Is this how the world was first formed? Wild waters rushing onto the land, waiting for life to begin. And when the waves would be especially rough and the sadness was with me, I'd think about the water pulling me in like Virginia Woolf, taking the never-ending lonely days with it. 

It was knowing His presence was there that kept me going. The colors changing in the evening sky, how the seagulls would perch on just one foot, the way sand formed plumes in the water when the waves hit the shore. 

Sometimes it would be too much and others not enough. Can you see why I kept going back week after week? It was calling to me. Sometimes I'd feel it so deeply during my walks, I'd yelp like an animal to try and get it out. 

Nature became my makeshift church, the birds and the cicadas and the children playing were the sermon, and I'd baptize myself in the healing lake again and again and again. 

As the weather continues to get cooler each month, I wonder what I'll do during the wintertime, when it'll be impossible to wade in the waters. When the snow and ice obscure the trails I walk along. Perhaps that's when I'll go back to church. You