Proverbs 6 verses 6-11 admonish: 6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! 7 For though they have no king to make them work, 8 yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. 9 But you—all you do is sleep. When will you wake up? 10 “Let me sleep a little longer!” Sure, just a little more! 11 And as you sleep, poverty creeps upon you like a robber and destroys you; want attacks you in full armor. (www.biblegateway.com)
I’ve heard this advice since I was a child, and I’ve watched ants each spring and summer as a result. But this spring, I have another observation about the wise little vermin. The past two years, our house has been overrun with ants. Ants on the kitchen countertops, in the cabinets, in the bathroom, in the playroom…anywhere that there was the slightlest fragrance of food or crumbs or wrappers. We don’t allow the kids to take food out of the kitchen area, but unfortunately, the rotten dog doesn’t follow that rule when she finds leftover lunches. (And my rotten husband takes has his bedtime snack in bed.)
The proverb above praises the dligence of the ant…its planning and preparations that occur long before winter comes. Well, the ants that live under our house must reign supreme in the formicidae family (thank you, bugguide.net for that classification). They have scavenged from all the possible cracks and crevices, nooks and crannies, corners and gaps and carried back home any morsel of goodness they could carry in their minute bellies or on their capable backs. They must have been so prepared for this past winter…and the next five!
And yet, as we played in the playroom today, on the floor whereupon the dog had shredded a box of graham crackers, I saw the first little black six-legged scout. Oh for crying out loud! I just stared at it. You’ve got to be kidding me, you little rascal. You and your hoard invaded my house last year…you can’t possibly be hungry again. And then I remembered the proverb. Darn little OCD critters. I sighed, knowing they had arrived for the season. They were here to stay.
I got out the carpet spray and the vacuum and I realized, yes, the tenacious, steadfast ant is to be admired, but he will only show up if there is a trail of crumbs to follow. No food, no premature patrol…
Moral of this spring story: don’t leave crumbs…of any kind…unless you want invaders. Don’t spread the first rumor. Don’t make the first judgment. Don’t tell the first lie. Don’t throw the first punch, literally or figuratively. Once the trail of sticky debris has begun, the onslaught is not far behind. The small particles that seem innocent, so easily wiped away, are actually invitations for more…more of the same and more of something else. More lies, more judgments, more hate, more manipulation. Those tasteless entrees beg for company…friends, influences, parasites who feed off of your flavorless company.
Beware the crumbs you scatter. Beware the snacks you induldge. Admire the ant. Learn from useful little ways. Be like him. But don’t invite him and his friends over for a visit.