This blog is not about this particular moth. It happens to be the only moth picture i ever took. But CHECK IT OUT! True Story! I bet you didn’t know that moths drink coffee. You can see the ring in the spoon and the moth’s long tongue. It actually drank all of the coffee there as we watched. And you were wondering why moths fly around like maniacs!!??
But REALLY this is a most serious blog about this seriously annoying creature!
A friend of mine, knowing that i like to tell stories, told me recently that there is a special club in Manhattan devoted totally to storytelling. You can go and listen to – or tell – them. And it’s called “the Moth.” The founder apparently comes from Georgia where he remembers hot summer nights where people used to sit out on the porch and tell stories all night. There were at least some breezes – and always some moths flying around the lights. When i heard about it, i immediately wrote down this story. Maybe i’ll go there someday.
i’ll say, YO! ALL MY FELLOW MOTH-ERS, You and i seem to be made for each other, as i could actually say that, in a way, the Singlemost Important Story of my Most StoryFull Life is about a Moth.
No one can ever say that i didn’t give “the religious life” a really good try. Twenty plus years with the Cappuccinos! But Destiny wanted me elsewhere. Take one look at my son and daughter, and try to tell me
that they weren’t meant to be!!?? Clearly, in the long run, in the great canvas, it’s all the same, be i Father Mike the Monk or Father Mike the Dad. It is all the same, if you know the Secret. And that Secret, believe it or not, was delivered to me by the Moth. Looking back over my 62 years on this earth, i cannot think of a more profound experience, even as simple – and UGLY – as my teacher was.
Yes, how curious that the model for greatness to me should be the moth, repulsive at first sight. But that is how it has been since that night about 35 years ago when – then as a priest – i took a little retreat in a hermitage which we seminarians had built under the able direction of one jack-of-all-trades named Father Marcellus. We built it in the forest valley of our seminary property in Sussex County, New Jersey, for the Little Brothers of Jesus, followers of holy man, Charles de Foucauld. But we used it also ourselves to seek peace and direction from God in the great silence. The place is now a Buddhist Temple, and the hermitage still there.
Woody Allen used to say very emphatically that there is nothing noisier or more frightening than a trip to those great outdoors, away from his peaceful, sacred Manhattan. The sounds and the sights of wooded creatures, great or small – and the dreaded Moth in particular – left the “Woodman” trembling and sleepless. And yes, it is true, that this is a stew that takes getting used to, or even acquiring the slightest taste for. i had come to relish the whole experience, with the one exception of the moth (and maybe mosquito).
Inside that little hermitage there was a tiny chapel, and so, when i said Mass, Jesus Himself had come to spend some wonderful time just with me. Unfortunately, He had to share it also with a moth, a gross, aggravating creature which was floating around my candle-lights. “You stupid little monster” were the words i was using most frequently about him, as he went in my ears and climbed up my hair and sat on my nose all night long. “Lord,” i begged, “tell him to leave us alone.” The only response i heard from Him was “Love your enemy. Seek the Good in all.” i tried and tried to be patient, that is, not to slap him down and smash him to smithereens.
It was around 3 A.M. that we finally caught a break. Or should i say that i witnessed the very best example of anyone of what this life is all about, when that pesty moth actually decided to take a dive right into the heart of the candle flame and was consumed. Nothing i could have been reading in any of my holy books could have taught me better. None of the people i had seen up til then – or since then – people coming mighty close to
sainthood, went so far as that simple creature of God, who so loves the Light that he could not stand to be apart from it. He gave his life for it, he became one with it. How many of us are so attracted to the Light, or so in love with Love, that we are ready to spend ourselves completely for Love Alone, seeking nothing, not one tiny thing, but Love?!
And as long as one learns to live selflessly, Live for Love, it doesn’t matter whether he is a Pope or a pop, the President or the penniless migrant worker. Few, if any, ever reach the pinnacle of Brother Moth.
i post this blog on this ONE MORE SADDER THAN SAD DAY in our world, when the darkness of EVIL has again raised its ugly head and attacked savagely, senselessly, and insanely those who simply LOVE THE LIGHT, THE LIGHT OF LOVE, the Light of Life, the Light of Freedom. My heart breaks for the victims and for their families. My heart aches for our children who must keep seeing these atrocious acts and living more and more in fear. i know, however, that we moths, we LIGHT-LOVERS, will KEEP ON KEEPING ON, keep LIVING and LOVING no matter how many times the beasts attack. We will never give up HOPE.
To Life. L’Chaim!! Vive La France!