itsy bitsy...NOT
Our huge garden spider, affectionately named, "Itsy"

A not-so-righteous Outrage
(August 7, 2004)
© 2004 Betty Elders / photo by me

Yesterday, while tending our gardens (vegetable AND flower) here, I got truly angry over our third year of Hill County locust plagues (actually, Jerusalem locusts, of all things....), and, trying to be careful among the blooms and veggies, I walked, with each successive footstep forward I made creating dust clouds of locusts flying in all directions.  Days before I had noticed another annual visitor to the gardens, a HUGE (see photo above) black and yellow garden spider, who rebuilds her web each year in order to catch such late summer garden pests by constructing a strong sticky net usually just inches above my head, somewhere in our yard.  Once or twice I have unhappily run into her web while mowing.  She has, though, as a consequence over time learned to build it higher and higher up. Last week my neighbor Nancy and I stumbled into it unsuspecting as we strolled the yard, admiring the year's crop of cantaloupes.  Our startling encounter had left Itsy's web somewhat subsequently mangled, but she repaired it promptly, though not completely.

I later apologized to Itsy, and that night, upon discovering a dried out locust carcass on our back deck, delivered the corpse to her web in an act or half-contrition.  Well, Itsy was on that dead locust faster than I could blink, and as she began spinning her culinary cocoon with intense joy. 

I slunk away-- feeling somewhat guilty for tossing another one of God's creations away like refuse---not unlike the Senate at Christmas.

Anyway, there I stood yesterday, thigh deep in stems, gazing across what looked to be an acre of recently defoliated ground-covering Vinca where the locusts and grasshoppers play and jump hither and yon with quintessential abandon---and seeing them proved to be my last straw; I snapped. 

Up I scooped one of those ugly brown things into my eager hands, and--marching over to Gene's and my little apple tree where Itsy's half shredded web lay in wait--flung that locust into Itsy's clutches faster than Nolan Ryan's fastball.  

"I'll show you!" I thought with blinding rage.  "And let your unhappy demise be a warning to all the others!!!"

But I had barely gotten out those words, when I saw in utter amazement the locust sailing right through a tattered hole in Itsy's web, where it then plummeted unto the soft green grass on the other side of the yard just beyond our apple tree.   And there that locust did lay, stunned indeed from its unscheduled flight. 

Incredulously, I proceeded across the yard and around the tree, picked up the locust up in my hand, resumed my position upon the mound and hurled again, this time aiming for the "sweet spot" -- Itsy's own corner in the web where the stitches were tighter and escape holes fewer.  And I fired....

Well, don't you know, that grasshopper just kept on a goin' like there was no web there at all, whereupon Itsy subsequently climbed up into the tallest point of her web and sat there, shivering inexplicably. 
This nearly made me pop my cork.  So, around the tree I marched once more, scooping up the dazed locust into my right hand, then stomping back to and resuming my original position beneath our apple tree, I fired that locust into midair again.

But I was not to be avenged. That grasshopper, now utterly limp from multiple midair hurls, sailed effortlessly past Itsy seated there in her corner, and--snagging on a single sticky silken thread--dropped down a ways, and dangled there in midair inches below Itsy's fangs.  The convicted, now exhausted from its travails, wiggled and swung halfheartedly, while Itsy in a most puzzling display of seeming indifference, sat impassively just above the locust's head.  That little bug swung there gently in the breeze for what seemed like ten minutes while the spider sat motionless just above it and me.  Irate wouldn't describe me. Although I wasn't about to put my hand near Itsy to snatch the locust and insure delivery; this spider being nearly as big as my hand, I imagined she could probably inflict a similarly sized bite as well.  Instant death to the enmy, but huge pain to the executioner.....

So there we all were. 

Soon I began to feel flush with guilt for my rage.  But before I could repent, however, the silken thread gave way, and the hapless locust plummeted to the ground again, as I found myself running around our apple tree to try once more.  But when I reached the place where the grasshopper appeared to have landed, I couldn't find it.

"!" I groaned, robbed of justice.  "This can't be happening!!!"

Itsy sat motionless in the farthest corner of her mangled web, gazing at me from the uppermost branches of our little apple tree.  She had not even once tried to catch that grasshopper as it sailed past.  I had offered it up to her multiple times and, yet, every time it was not to be.

I traipsed around the orchard half-heartedly then, my righteous outrage slowly dissolving into the summer's heat.  Only part of me any longer really hoped to find the critter, the other part seemd to be involuntarily winding down from the adrenaline rush and felt relieved not to have committed murder on the unsuspecting.  I never did find the grasshopper.

So what was I to ultimately conclude from all of this....

Today it occurs to me that perhaps only the God who created all of this has final authority to execute justice, even though He appoints his earthly representatives to act in His stead regarding issues of moral, ethical, and legal relevance.  And it also occurs to me that when some of His beloved children attempt to take matters into His their own hands by executing vengeance on their perceived enemies, if said "enemies" are not also God's enemies, perhaps He must restrain certain of us, demonstrating exactly how divine justice must work--not in random outbursts of (rage) vengeance, but, instead meted out with eyes and hearts attuned to such divine qualities as mercy, longsufferingness, and compassion.

I am not certain about such things at all.  But I do know I felt better having been thwarted than I would have had I had succeeded. 

Out here in the Hill Country, it is admittedly hard to feel mercy and compassion on seemingly depraved critters like locusts, fire ants, scorpions and rattlesnakes.  However, if we are allowed to always act on impulse taking matters of justice into our own hands without an eye for God's own standards, then, at the least we may risk becoming the thing despised.

Perhaps this week as we consider our own country's future and its past attitudes toward perceived "enemies," may we truly find ourselves better served by such qualities as mercy, longsufferingness, and compassion.  Even if the hand of Almighty God ultimately must intervene, releasing seeming locusts within our grasp, in order that we learn our lesson HIS way.  Let us each try to consider that His Word promises reassurance to all who lean on Him, and that He promises that He, alone, as Creator, declares Himself the ultimate Judge of all His creation.  Therefore, by trusting Him and remembering His Word, we find ourselves comforted and released from the futility of trying to make everything in our world turn out right.  Knowing and trusting His promises to us can free us from potential acts of violence, enabling us to do the impossible--to love those undeserving of it, hence, "loving one another..." , as He has indeed truly loved us.

To Him only be the glory and the honor.  Amen.

You are in my prayers.  Please keep me in yours.


the other garden

Questions?  Comments?  Email me HERE.

Need more Encouraging Words:

"With All that is Happening, What Can I Do Now" -- June 8, 2004
It All Feels So Hopeless Sometimes" --  June 28, 2004
"From the Heart" -- January 2005

Or try our
Notes From Above