The next prompt in Writing in the Margins:
Turn to Exodus 10, the plaque of locust. Scratch out the word locusts and write something from your native area that plagues your community. How was God using the plaques to get the attention of Pharaoh? Write a prayer in the margin.
I live in an area surrounded by apple orchards, so stink bugs come to mind. Wondering how I would ever write anything about stink bugs in the margins of my Bible, I decided today to stop for apples at the fruit orchard near my house. While there I asked the lady attending the fruit stand for her thoughts. I explained that I was trying to think of the modern equivalent for the locust plague. Without hesitation she said, “stink bugs!” She continued: “It was kind of like a plague at first. They were everywhere!” After the cold winter we had last year, they were less of a problem this year.
We talked for a while about the year-round labor involved in growing apples. As I listened to the lady talk, the thought occurred to me, “There is something inherently courageous about having an apple orchard as a business.” I also started feeling increasingly dismayed by the thought of all that work and tender care being undone by the arrival of stink bugs; they make the outer surface of the fruit bruise and rot when they eat. She explained that as bad as stink bugs are, hail is even more devastating. One year, the orchard lost the whole apple crop during a short hail storm. I asked her how it affects one’s faith to know that your whole year’s work could be destroyed by a bad day of weather. She said, “That’s a better question for the owner, but the year of the hail storm was also the year his wife was terribly ill. She died that winter, so it worked out in a way. He was not so busy with the store and had time to be with her.” For me, her comments were a hint that the orchardist was somehow able to see a glimpse of providence in a year of extraordinary loss. I was in tears upon leaving the apple orchard. There’s a quote that came to mind attributed to Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Here’s the prayer that found itself into my margins:
God I deeply appreciate the abundance of peaches and apples where I live. Please bless the orchards and all those who work there and keep the crops safe.
Just yesterday, I was thinking of the wonder I feel whenever I see monarch butterflies. It’s a totally different feeling of surprise to open my Bible and see a stink bug. I am so used to finding them on my tooth brush in the morning or in one of my daughter’s toys or on the wall–so the feeling that I have when I open my Bible and see this sketch is “Not again!”.