I’ve been stubborn. I’ve always demanded the sure thing. Every time, I’ve chosen what I could see with my own two eyes, rather than standing firm with feet planted in what faith requires. I’ve been like Thomas — preferring something I could touch and return to over and over.
Like my ladybug tree. Every spring, the ladybugs would return, predictable and sure. No faith required.
I was a grade-school girl, sitting crosslegged, on the place where the cracked, bulging sidewalk greeted a new spring blanket of grass. In the shade of the elm, I’d seek the ladybugs every May. And like a promise, each spring, I’d find the city of plump little ladies in tight red dresses with oversized black polka-dots. They wore black stilettos heels, and danced under the shade of the elm.
I was the hostess for the ladybug party — serving pine-needle tea in maple-leaf cups.
And I was the entertainment, singing songs into an elm-branch microphone.
And I was the staircase on which they would dance. I’d hold my arm at an angle, pressing fingertips into soft dirt. If I stayed still, the bugs would waltz up my skin, tickling me as the spring sun warmed my neck.
Every spring, I knew they’d be there. I believed, because I had seen.
And then one spring, I went out with my pine needles and my tea cups, and the lady bugs with the high heels were gone.
I stopped believing in lady-bugs.
Fly away home …
Just yesterday, thirty years later, the ladies returned for me. And it was one of those moments when beauty sneaks right up under your nose to surprise you.
I was in the garden — my garden — with the sun falling on my bent-over back, and we were trimming back the dead. A stripping away to make room for new growth in this, the season of perennial hope.
I pushed back a clump of green, sprouting up under the arching birch, and that’s where I found them. It was a whole village of ladybugs, gripping leaves and dancing a slow waltz on branches. (And no, these weren’t the Asian beetles.)
“Come, girls, look!” I called. “Real ladybugs!”
The girls crashed through the landscape, hurdling over new spring growth. Their eyes adjusted, and they hunched over to find it: this lost city, crawling red in the shade.
“I see them, Mommy!” the littlest one whispered, and we stood still at the wonder. The girl in the Tinkerbell costume plucked one, cupping it in her hands so beauty wouldn’t fly away.
All around us, I think, we have front row seats to a Beauty Dance. The ladybugs didn’t fly away forever. I just stopped looking for them, and stopping believing in them.
And this is what I’m forever relearning. Even when I can’t see with my eyes, I can see with my faith. For always — always — something beautiful is waiting to be discovered.
Today, I pray you, let faith be my eyes.
Be thou my vision.
Submitted as part of Laura’s Playdates with God series.
Also writing in community with Michelle.