Mantis


Reflection on one of God’s creatures, or two.

MANTIS

Coming in from shopping one day, I encountered a mantis on the stucco by the front door. I think mantises are the oddest and most fascinating little creatures. You may have noticed that I haven’t written “praying” mantis. That is because I am not sure how to spell it.

I think “praying” is correct because the little guys are holding their green arms in front of them as if folded in prayer. In their contemplative stillness, they seem to be the most devout of the insect kingdom.

However, I have also heard tell that mantises are killers—of other insects. They prey on aphids, beetles, and other pesky crawlers. So, in my mind’s eye, I see the word spelled “preying” mantis.

Maybe the paradox of the praying mantis adds to its appeal. A still, sculptural, devout green insect waiting patiently, perhaps reciting an inner mantra, and then POUNCING on an unsuspecting aphid to devour it pitilessly.

How many of my fellow church-goers, so pure and holy as they kneel in confession, leave the church parking lot only to cut someone off on the freeway, flipping the bird as they race toward the casino, the bar, or the secret tryst with an illicit lover.

We advanced human life forms tend to think of insects as low, simple creatures. But, like us, the praying mantis is more than meets the eye.

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