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Advent: Taking the Time to Notice

December 2, 2013

Have you heard of Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis?  It is like a moth.  A funny little moth that spends its larval stages in a little bag made of bits and pieces of the plants around it so that it blends in and is a little bit hard to see if you don’t take the time to notice.  Can you see it?

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The infestations are often missed in their early stages.  Careful observation of the plants is required in order to detect the worms before they have already caused damage.  We saw hundreds of them at my parents’ house this past summer.  There was this little wiggly case hanging from a branch.  I quickly grabbed my camera, hoping to catch the emergence of a new butterfly or moth.

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We waited.  And watched it wiggle.  Then we noticed more.  And more.  And even more on the shrubs in the driveway.  We saw the little caterpillar heads peeking out and munching on the bushes.  Definitely not butterflies, or at least, not yet.  I took a little research break and discovered the bagworm.  My papa learned he would soon have the job of removing them, one by one, to prevent spread the following year.

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I was reminded of them this past weekend as we spend the holiday with my family.  It made me think of other places pests might creep in unnoticed, disguised in bits and pieces of their immediate surroundings.  A little bitterness here, all covered up in justification and self-righteousness.  A little mean-spirited criticism over there, wrapped in well-meaning I know better.  During Advent, in the darkness as we wait for the light, I am taking an inventory.  Careful observation of what I’m growing in my own heart.  And careful removal of any sneaky pests that have made themselves at home, cloaked in different pieces of me.

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