Winslow Homer, “Snap the Whip”, 1872, (The Met)
Lord, I don’t want to be witty, or smart, or cute.
I don’t want to be clever, or interesting, or different.
I don’t want to be important.
One of a kind.
I don’t want to want to be anything.
You will be.
“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
A few days ago my daughter was eating a piece of toast for breakfast. It was a nice piece of toast, I prepared it my myself. Golden brown. A good amount of very good olive oil, from a little can my sister-in-law gifted us after a trip to Portugal. And I cracked some sea salt. Beautiful little crystals atop virgin oil upon a bed of grain and wheat, all held aloft by a bit of yeast.
She was eating away. Then I heard a shriek. It seems a little stink bug landed on the edge of her plate. Well, that was the end of breakfast.
Like a little dinosaur. I’m pretty sure they’re harmless. Apparently, they’re not from the United States. It seems they’ve recently made their way over from China. They’re immigrants, if you will. Or perhaps ‘missionaries’ is a better way to put it, at least from the stink bug’s perspective.
They’ve got a job after all, like the rest of us. I doubt they complain though. I also doubt that the first little guy to make his way across the great ocean to arrive at our shores had any idea he was discovering a whole new world. The Christopher Columbus of stink bugs. But there’s no statue. No holiday. No day off. No big sale at Macy’s honoring his (or her) accomplishment.
Nonetheless, his relative was in my home the other day and landed on my daughter’s plate, leaving me wondering if she had eaten enough, and also somewhat worried she wouldn’t have enough energy to make it through the first half of the day.
She did. The day went on. The bug was removed. As far as my daughter’s relationship with stink bugs specifically or with insects in general, we’ll just have to wait and see.
I don’t know why that little bug is on my mind. I guess I admire him. His obedience.
God created that little bug, both his kind and him individually. I am therefore to love him:
Love God in all His creation. Love all of God’s creation for His sake.
In love with a bug.
Hey, who knows?
I’m having fun. Life is wonderful. If only we could all just play. All day. No homework. No tests. No goals of earning admittance.
I laugh. I smile. I think again. My little girl. All children. It’s amazing what they say. What the Holy Spirit speaks through living innocence:
“I want to fall into the Sun…and go deep, deep, deep…and the clouds will tickle me…”
When parents speak of the little things they’re children say, I imagine most listeners take it with a grain of salt.
But parents know what they’ve heard, spoken or not.
Surely God knows.
After all, He’s a parent too.
And he wants us to play.
Stink bugs and all.
From the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Snap the Whip
Artist: Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine) Date: 1872
“In the years after America’s brutal Civil War (1861-65), children—as embodiments of innocence and the promise of America’s future—became a popular artistic subject. Snap the Whip, one of Homer’s most beloved works, evoked nostalgia for the nation’s agrarian past as the population shifted to cities, and the little red schoolhouse faded from memory. Released from their lessons, the exuberant bare-footed boys engage in a spirited game of snap the whip, which required teamwork, strength, and calculation—all important skills for a reuniting country…”