Praying Mantis Hope
June 23, 2011
Our youngest daughter is a budding entomologist. She loves all sorts of creepy crawlies and saved up her own money this spring to purchase a pod of praying mantis eggs. After six weeks of anticipation, the things finally hatched. Hundreds of mantids were scurrying out, and I bravely captured a dozen or so, which we placed in separate jars. A few have died, a few were generously given away to other bug-loving pals, but we still have five of the little critters. They have all molted at least once, and some have now molted twice.
They really are fascinating creatures.
I was watching one just this morning as I drank my coffee, (I fully acknowlege my nerdiness) and realized that he was in the very process of molting. It was truly bizarre. This tiny, tan mantis hung upside down and slowly, painstakingly began wriggling down out of his old skin to emerge, bright green and slightly translucent, and nearly twice as big. The old skin remained behind, completely intact, just empty.
Like in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, when the children note that the stable is bigger inside than out. Well, sort of like that.
As I watched I noticed that he would wiggle a little way out, then rest, just swaying slightly as he seemed to gather up the energy for another wiggle. The first set of legs (the “praying” ones) emerged first. As each new limb struggled its way out of the old shell, he would wave it around experimentally, then be still, waiting and working on his job: to be totally free of the old skin.
Once he was out, he seemed clumsy and awkward, probably not used to his new big self.
If anyone is still reading this rambling description, thank you for indulging me.
I couldn’t help but to slip into an allegorical mindset as I watched this little guy’s transformation. My life has seemed a bit harder than usual recently, with many (frightening) attempts to “do the next right thing,” only to have no apparent success. Every venture has felt like seeing an open doorway through which I should walk, only to have the door slammed in my face as I got near it.
Mixing metaphors, I am. Back to the mantis:
What if these struggles are like God’s plan to have me emerge, failing in what I thought He planned for me to do, but bigger, stronger, and cooler once I press through? What if He put these trials in my life not to have me sail through, small and triumphant, but to change me through the pain to emerge a different sort of Leanne? A more trusting, peaceful Leanne. A Leanne with a faith that has been enlarged and stretched, albeit painfully, with times of resting and regrouping. A Leanne who comes out fragile and clumsy at first, but when her new skin hardens up and she gets used to her new limbs, she is so much more effective than before in catching juicy fruit flies to feast on…?
Okay, eventually all metaphors break down. But hopefully you get the picture of my anagogic observation of a molting praying mantis.