Monday, June 24, 2013

The Genius of The Lady Bug

I have never been much of an entomologist, but every so often something small triggers the interest section of our tangential brains. I had heard a cute anecdote about lady bugs and their flight patterns, which naturally led me to endless research on Wikipedia about lady bug folk lore and the history behind why these little bugs are so loved all across the world.

A little knowledge before we proceed to the crux of this post: The coccinelid, or what we commonly refer to in the United States as the Lady Bug, gets its name from the famous mother of Jesus. ‘Lady’ refers to the lady in ‘Our Lady’, which always is in reference to Mary, i.e. Our Lady Peace, Our Lady of Conception, Notre Dame (Our Lady), Our Lady of Sorrows, etc. Why on earth would a tiny bug seemingly bereft of utility be named after the mother of the Lord? Well, Mary was often depicted donning a red cloak in early Christian paintings. Also, most European lady bugs have seven spots. Why is 7 a relevant number? Well, a rudimentary understanding of Catholic beliefs shows us that there exists seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary. The seven joys are:

1.     The Annunciation
2.     The Nativity of Jesus
3.     The Adoration of the Magi
4.     The Resurrection of Christ
5.     The Ascension of Christ into Heaven
6.     The Pentecost
7.     The Coronation of the Virgin

The seven sorrows are as follows:

1.     The circumcision of Christ
2.     The Flight into Egypt
3.     The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
4.     Mary Meets Jesus on the way to Calvary
5.     Jesus Dies on the Cross
6.     Mary Receives the Body of Christ in her Arms
7.     The Body of Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

So, next time you see a cute little coccinelid you will hopefully think of the plight of poor Mary, or at least the early Christian church’s obsession with numerology and the beatification of Mary.

Now to the crux of the matter; why I think lady bugs are so prodigious. This is not biological fact, but lady bugs have a tendency to land on an object, and before taking off again, they climb to the top of said object. Why does this poke and prod at my curious bone? Because it is as if these little creeping things are smarter than they appear. Why settle for takeoff from one height, when the highest possible point is not much more difficult to reach? Why settle for mediocrity when greatness is but a few steps further? Why settle for a nice view, when a gorgeous view is just a few miles away? Perhaps the modus operandi of this insect is not that complex, but alas I love parallelisms and I think much can be learned by this little beetle of God. Far too often I fall short of greatness because I am just a little too lazy. And far too often I settle for the mediocre, saving greatness for a day that will likely never come. The lesson to be gleaned here is that the difference between good and great is often very subtle and very small. We just have to decide to climb to the top of objects before we fly off. We have to make the conscious decision to dominate life in lieu of just getting through life. I bet that little arthropod had no idea how much it could teach me. Truth is, everything in this vast universe can teach us something if we allow it to.