Thursday November 20, 2014

Dragonflies, sin and the ultimate pirate repellant


The door exploded inwards, and two grandbeans busted into the house. All excited. “Nana, we SAVED a dragonfly today!”

“Wow! Bravo! Amazing!” Grins. High fives. “So is he going to heaven now?”

A bit of eye-rolling ensued. “Nana. You know that dragonflies can’t go to heaven. Jesus didn’t die for THEM.”

“Oh. That’s a pity. Anyway. How’d you save it?”


Our family has a fondness for dragonflies. They eat pirates – or so we have dubbed mosquitoes. That much smaller insect, like ocean-going villains, bears responsibility for massive havoc and destruction. Each year, more people die of mosquito-related diseases than any other cause of death.

West Nile Disease almost claimed the Preacher seven years ago, and has brought long-term health consequences. So we consider a surplus of dragonflies a good gift, especially during a wet summer such as the one we had this year. Chasers, darters, skimmers or hawkers, (the bugs are named for the way they hunt), we need them all.

I bid on a dragonfly at our church camp’s charity auction a few weeks ago, a large decorative wire one. I hoped to hang it on the side of our red summer place – my six-by-six foot “cottage” in the back yard. I thought it might frighten off the mosquitoes completely. Save us megabucks in spending for our usual repellants, foggers, lanterns and zappers.

I lost that bid to one of the ICU nurses who cared for my husband during the first days of his infection. It seemed appropriate. She too dislikes mosquitoes. She has more reason than most, having treated people battling for life because of the viruses they carry.

A few days after that auction, real dragonflies descended. Clusters of them. They hovered like animated jewels over the grass, the garden, the raspberries, the decks. I watched them scooping up mosquitoes, eating on the fly and other unlucky bugs.

Dragonflies are such effective little predators that one evening, when six or seven landed on me at once, I gave thanks for their small size – and my large one. Then I sat very still on our biggest sitting rock in the front yard and let them rest on my arms and shoulders, knowing I wore the best repellant of all.

God gave the “red barons” of the insect world outstanding aeronautic skills. If you’ve ever watched their rival dog fights – some of them to the death – you’ve likely observed their ability to turn, chase and hover, each set of wings working independently.

Another pirate infects you and me – this one, from birth. That pirate, sin, wreaks havoc in life and death. Few seek healing, and casualties remain high.

Yet God sent dragonflies – his own animated, ancient words. Flashing, agile swords that have pricked the meanest minds and softened the hardest hearts. Those who read, listen and welcome them in quiet stillness discover a stronger Defender: the ultimate Victor over the dread pirate sin – Jesus Christ himself.

Are you protected?



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