Stink Bug

Beloved Bugs

So I’ve recently started a new book, Brother Augustine’s “Humility Rules.” It’s a book that takes the intense, ancient monastic Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia and tries to modernize it, simplify it, and turn it into a 12 step program to finding genuine self-esteem. How quaint! Each step is related to a virute, and after each section is a “homework assignment” to help you better understand and practice these virtues. The 1st of the 12 steps is “fear of the Lord.” In it, Bro-gustine says “I’m not suggesting that it is good to be afraid of God — as though He were sitting up there in heaven itching to hit that “smite” button,” but “if God were truly good He must be truly just.” According to the Catechism, the virtue of justice dictates that you should “give your due to God and neighbor.” To simplify this, should you owe someone money it would probably be good and just that you try to pay him back, but in terms of justice to God… 

He’s considerably harder to pay back…

So my homework for this section was to simply “spare the life of a bug.” A little weird, but ok I guess. I decided I’d try and remember this the next time I encountered a bug. The next day, having completely forgotten my assignament, JP drew attention to one of those gross stink bugs as it climbed out of our kitchen sink… bleh… I didn’t think much of it, but as I turned away, I remembered my homework and “NOO- *BLUZ-ZRT* -aaahhh… ooo… that’s… that’s the garbage disposal… Well, I guess that wasn’t the bug I was meant to save, I’ll just get the next one…”

I wasn’t sure when the next bug to spare would reveal itself, but, sure enough, later that night as I was sitting in my room I heard a “BIZzzz *tink* BZzz *tink-Tink.*” It was another one of those stupid stink bugs and it was stuck up in my light fixture….gross… My immediate thought was, “I’M GONNA GET IT!!!” but luckily this time I was able to take a step back and remember my assignment.

So I gotta spare this bug and I’m wondering what the best way to do it is. At first, I figured I could just pinch it in a tissue and flick it off outside, but coincidentally I was just finishing an apple and I recalled JP saying that stink bugs liked fruit. Under different circumstances, “tissue flick” would have been a very appropriate solution in my mind, but I figured as long as I had an apple core I could at least try to put a little more thought into this. 

Feeling slightly dumb that I was going to try to put a little more thought into this, I took my apple core held it next to the light fixture, about where the bug was and waited. I heard a buzz, freaked out mildly, fearful that a bug might be flying into my face, but then realized it istead landed right on the apple… Well, hey little buddy!! It was almost cute. So I took the apple core with my tiny new friend and I carefully walked it out of my room, with all the grace of a toddler gently holding a small bug. I thought for sure it would fly off as I walked down the stairs but surprisingly it just sat there, motionless. I took it outside and I even went so far as to walk it through the dark to our compost pile behind the house. I gently set the apple down in the pile and walked back to the house with a smile on my face and a slightly warmer heart. Not only because I had done something nice, but because, through this experience, I had come to a deeper understanding of God’s own mercy.

So what does this tell us about fear of the Lord? Well, let me show you. I didn’t have to spare that bug. It was so small and meaningless compared to me. An annoying nuisance that invaded my space. I owned it nothing and I could easily have ended its life… Now lets compare ourselves to God. We are small, annoying pests that, for the most part, do whatever we want. We are often terrible to each other and to God. And God could easily push that smite button we talked about earlier… but He doesn’t… 

Now I’m not necessarily saying that we are bugs! Haha! Get real! If we truly compare the relationship of man and insect to the relationship between God and man. The difference between the former is a bit more… quantifiable, whereas, the difference of the later is a bit more… infinite… Truly, we could only ever dream of being on the bug/human level in relation to God… we are so much smaller than that…

So why does God put up with us? Why would a God so infinitely great decide to spare the life of something so… tiny… and stupid… and smelly…

For all the terrible stuff we do regularly, God could easily pinch us in a tissue and flick us out into space, but He doesn’t. He could easily give us an apple and a compost pile of everything that would make us happy, but He doesn’t. Instead, the Supreme Being of the universe decided to show us His own love, compassion, and mercy. Mercy and love to the point He became one of us, suffered as one of us, and died a death unbefitting of a God, that we might one day live with Him. To be placed in His compost pile out back would be enough, to crawl pointlessly around a house would be enough, yet His intention is to have us live in His own Kingdom, sharing in his love and unity. Nether death nor happiness, but perfect joy. Isn’t that truly insane? At least in our tiny minds, it might seem so.

We could never truly begin to comprehend the love and mercy of our God. If we are to talk about proper justice, we owe everything to Him. It might be something to consider in the future. To better aid in our reverence, Bro. Augustine used this line towards the end of the chapter:

“So yes, it’s better to Love God, but when you are not feeling the love, at least try to feel the fear.” – Brother J. Augustine Wetta, OSB

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