“How big is your infestation?” Are these not some of the scariest words you might ever hear?
“It could have qualified as an eleventh plague” I reply into the phone, “There is a cloud of biblical proportions everywhere I go.”
Then Mike, the chatty bug expert, walks me through the entire life cycle of this particular species of gnat, commonly known as a fruit fly. Being early fall, you might be well acquainted with them, too?
Mike brightly details everything I would never-ever-really-want-to-know about gnats. I listen raptly, stunned really, because he obviously delights in this amazing work of understanding what motivates all manner of insects. The phone call lasts 50 minutes.
After a slew of investigative questions such as “Do any of your oranges have green fuzz on them?” and “Do you happen to have an apple orchard outside your kitchen window?” as well as plenty of unrelated personal stories, he unearths my problem.
Compost gone wrong.
Much to my family’s olfactory chagrin, I have had good intentions about starting a compost pile for a long time. This means, I’ve been non-stop talking about, researching, and even collecting the daily peels and grounds. All good, except I haven’t actually dug the “official” compost hole to hold the bounty.
See where this is going?
Not wanting to waste even the teensiest bit of precious organic matter, (“What’s that you hold there, child? A sesame seed? Half a raisin found on the floor? Into the compost!”) I’ve been hoarding piles of organic rot outside the back door, because I was eventually going to produce the most glorious compost matter known to man.
“This is really gross, mom.”
Can I blame them for not embracing the ideal of composting when they must currently pass through the overwhelming stench several times each day to put on their shoes?
But I try…
“Oh, hey kiddos! Let’s lug this garbage way out back there. See that hole in the far field that mom dug all by herself? No, past that field…the next one over. Just you wait and see how cool this will be! You’ll help me dump all this stinky trash in, and then it’s going to get all hot and then rot! Then, you can assist me in turning it all over with a shovel once in a while and THEN you can help me spread it all over the vegetable garden! Organic broccoli and Brussel sprouts! Isn’t that great?!”
I must say their gag reflexes work beautifully.
So it was a solitary effort on a Sunday afternoon that I took my shovel to a sunny spot behind the car port to dig, and to think happy thoughts.
One day, I realize anew, I will return to the earth.
While somewhat sobering, and something I don’t usually bring up at parties, this is the most powerful anti-venom I have found to ungratefulness, pride and depression. When I remember that I will one day return to the earth, a strong heart and mind response is in order.
Each hour I am given today has been granted by my Maker. Not only that, but those given hours are pressing me on toward real life, or death.
Death = lots of minutes, hours, days strung together without thought of our loving Maker and lots of anxious thoughts that I can make or break myself and plan my future.
Life = even one second (imagine an hour, a day, a life?) where I remember I have a loving Maker who shapes and makes me, and carries me along in his good and perfect will.
I choose life.
My last given breath will be an adios to decay and a leap into a vivid, growing life where nothing need die in order that something fruitful may live. Until then, I want to remember more often that I have been made for something, thanks be to God.
Gnats, I now know thanks to my new best friend, Mike, are attracted to decaying things.
I wonder at the troubles, the worries, the distractions that hover around me in an irksome, awful cloud some days. What decay have they found? Where are they breeding? What can I do to be rid of them?
The real and spiritual tell-tale gnats pester me quietly until I can take it no more. They point to the death outside my door and in my inner spaces and it is enough to move me to action.
Dig and remember. Remember and give thanks.
I may have to work some more on the kids:)