When you are reading a blog, do you ever wonder what the person behind the pen looks like? Well, here i am – just relaxing on my front porch waiting for all the people in those silly outfits to arrive.
A good costume sure does go a long way. We have one or two masks that just keep working every Halloween! i sure did get my money’s worth.
But if you want to talk about the most perfect costume in all of creation, it is owned by a little critter known as the mantis. Among the little critters this is actually quite big and quite scary…but harmless to humans. Even rather friendly, once they get to know you. i am “the friend of the mantis,” as my daughter’s photos testify.The way that Merlin spoke to dragons, i speak to the mantis.
My relationship began at the start of my freshman year of high school in 1967. The science teacher told us on day one to begin thinking of some grand project. And right around that very day, right around my very house, i happened upon a very unique site, not one but two mantis, a brown one and a green one, a male and a female. My mother, who was always the fun partner in science and life, right away alerted me to what an opportunity this was. “Why don’t you put them together in a box…and let it all happen…and make that your project!!!???” Brilliant!
So, we put the lovely couple into the Keds’ Honeymoon Suite, but being far more curious than confidential, my mother and i were immediately in for one of the unique wonders of Nature. As sure as shootin’ the two mated, but then the female, first appearing to nibble on her lover’s neck, BIT HIS WHOLE HEAD OFF!!! And from there she went on to bite everything off and to devour her hubby’s entire body, except the wings. The whole encounter blew my mind and made me want to know everything there was to know about this creature….
The outstanding thing about the mantis is that it is an absolute monster, a killing machine. It is a carnivore and a cannibal who will devour anyone in its path. The ootheca, or egg mass, which came from the quick and deadly rendezvous, sat around my school lab through Autumn and Winter, until one day in Spring, as i entered the front door of the school i heard a scream down the corridors. It was from the lab where there were about 300 baby mantises crawling about and even eating each other. Even from the moment of birth the monster rises! It was like a 2015-style horror flick!! “The Walking Dead” or something!
The official name of my friend is The Praying Mantis, although somebody in the naming department got one letter wrong. Yes, it looks just like a peaceful holy monk or nun, but it is IN TRUTH p-r-e-y-ing. Or if praying, then you can bet the words are, “Give us this day our daily meat…and lots of it…” As it kneels there so very silently, undetected, always ready to kill.
What an awesome phenomenon of Nature! And yet not such a shocking one to our Human Nature, which seems to hold many of its own similarities, particularly when it comes to “Church People!” By far one of the most wonderful priests i ever knew – and his name, upon remembering, will warm the hearts of anyone who knew him – was Fr. Charles Mott, a Capuchin. He is notorious for so many habits or gestures or sayings, but my very favorite was his custom of whining, “I love the Church, but it is Church People that I cannot stand!” By that i am sure that he meant “the holier than thou’s,” those who were convinced that their practice of religion made them better than, superior to, everyone else. Jesus created the perfect picture for us in his parable of the man in the front of the Temple, thanking God for himself, that he was sooooo great, so unlike any of the lowly scoundrels in the house!
PRAYing can certainly become a dirty and dangerous business, taking such control of a man as to make him instead nothing but a PREYer…for anyone he can destroy in his “holiness.” Kneelers can quickly become munitions dumps, whenever people forget why they went there in the first place, i.e. to acknowledge their imperfections and their needs…to cry for help. Jekyll turns to Hyde, suddenly he feels mighty strong, and off he goes – like a mantis – expert shots at jugulars! Sometimes “holy, humble” people can be the meanest, most vicious, and most impossible-to-live-with monsters!
TRUE PRAYER wraps the person is a blissful gratitude that in turn makes the person want to lift others up and enhance others’ lives rather than prey upon their faults and weaknesses. The PRAYer lives to share the Blessings with everyone around them. Love will always be the only test of our relationship with God. May God help us all to be TRUE and free of masks.
Happy Halloween, everyone, and happy Feast of All the Saints – why Halloween was started anyway!!! May we work on our Saint-side versus our Mantis-side.