Cicadas & The Universal Pattern

I'm not sure how things are going in your neck of the woods, but it's mid-summer hot in mine, and the cicadas are out in force. 

Last night, it sounded like a whole passel of cicadas was outside my window, making all kinds of cicada racket.  I stepped outside to hear them better, closing my eyes at one point to listen.  To be honest, there's a strange kind of beauty in their song. 

I've fished a few of these critters out of my pool, and they're pretty monstrous-looking. Just to be honest... I'd probably freak out if one fell out of a tree and landed on me. 

I read yesterday about what's happening with the cicadas and why they are everywhere. 

The 2024 Brood XIX of these slow-moving and noisy bugs has been long in the making. This year, billions of cicadas burst forth from the earth after a 17-year gestation period; they will also be joined by a 13-year brood for a rare emergence of two broods at once.  

Lucky us. 

They emerge from years of darkness to crawl and fly and then spend a few weeks breeding, flying, and chattering. By the Fourth of July, they die off only after their newborns have hatched and burrowed. 

Today, I thought about what that must be like for the cicadas, which is how my brain works.  

I thought about them spending 17 years in total darkness, growing, gestating, and waiting. Then, emerging into the brilliant light, they suddenly could take flight. They live intensely before dying and returning to the earth that bore them.  

I read this poem the other day by Wendell Berry that I called to mind as I pondered all things cicada: 

When I rise up 
let me be joyful
like a bird. 
When I fall let me fall without regret 
like a leaf. 

You see, as weird and annoying as the Brood XIX of cicadas might be, it also dramatically illustrates the universal pattern amid everything- a pattern of dying and rising.  

But it also reminds us that many of us spend so much of our lives living in darkness, unaware of the life that we were meant to live. Sometimes, we become so accustomed to the darkness that we feel like there is nothing else.  

It can even feel comfortable and safe compared to the unknown and uncertainty of living in the light. 

Only when we cast off the things that keep us from living our best lives and acting as our truest selves will we be able to emerge,  fly, and experience the abundance and beauty that God desires for us.  

We can't fear putting ourselves out there, risking comfort and safety.  We don't have to fear because we must know our place within the universal pattern.  We rise up, and we fall, and we rise again.  

The great German philosopher Johan Goethe once wrote: 

As long as you do not know how to die and come to life again, you are but a sorry traveler on this dark path. 

If you have been holding back, content to live a dimly lit, seemingly safe life but feeling constantly like there's more for you, maybe it's time to try something different.  

Rise in joy.  If you step more fully into the life that God means for you to live, you will not live in regret.  And even if you fall, you will find ultimate comfort in knowing it won't be the end.  

May it be so for you today and every day, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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