I’d intended to return from my weekend away and offline with some type of mind-bending post on Lumen Fidei, or a at the very least a recap of the incredible things I learned from the various kilt-wearing-Guinness-chugging reenactors I met this this weekend at the Scottish Highland Games in Monterey. But then I returned home after my road trip and discovered a downstairs full of demons: ants!
Our weekend family road trip bliss was destroyed by the colony that had set up camp in our absence. I first found them in the laundry room, adjacent to my kitchen. I killed the first ten, hoping (in ignorance) that their encroachment was contained to the detergent bin area.
Long story short, I’m now exiled from my home. We did battle last night, finding the source in our backyard and their trail of evil doom leading to a sliver of a crack in the foundation. My husband, an able handyman, fought them valiantly and we drifted off to sleep upstairs, blissfully hopeful that the worst was behind us. Unfortunately, my first stop this morning — at the coffee pot — indicated otherwise. Of course “handyman” was at his day job saving lives in the Emergency Department, so I was left to fend for myself. The teen was woken from slumber to help me empty the entire kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. The pest control company was placed on high alert and told that they needed to come today, immediately, not on Thursday as they had originally proposed. We scurried to ready ourselves for the professionals, let them in, and then left — locked out of our own home base while they took on the little demons. When I return home in three hours, I’ll survey the damage and put the pieces back together. In the mean time, my kitchen, laundry room and guest bath will obviously get the “spring cleaning” they so desperately needed, after having been bombed with all kinds of chemicals.
Normal housewives would see an ant attack for the menace it is. They would clean up and move on.
Apparently I’m not normal. As I killed ant after ant this morning, my mind wasn’t on how many embarrassing crumbs were hiding in nooks and crannies. No, not me.
I was thinking about sin. About ants, and sin.
And the similarities.
Ants are sneaky.
You see one or two of them, and it’s easy to ignore them.
You see three or four or five, squish them, and move along.
You see ten and suddenly you’re paying attention.
You see fifty and reach for the bug spray.
You see two hundred and start to consider looking for the source, the root cause of the swarm.
You see a thousand and call in the professionals.
If you’re smart, when you finally get to that “calling the professionals” stage, you’re ready. You have the number for a pest control company. The company is open, and they’re not too busy with other people’s termites to fit you in. Best case scenario: they come out, fumigate, and you’re done with the problem. But more than likely they’ll warn you on their way out the door that you need to be “vigilant”. Survivors, strong ants or those who might have been smart enough to hide from the poison, will show up. They’ll invite their buddies and if you’re not careful, your pest problem will recur. If you don’t change your ways, you’re in for long-term trouble.
Yes, I concluded this morning that ants and sin have much in common.
We sin all the time — “little sins“, solitary instances of commandments broken — or so we tell ourselves. Sins continue to mount, to pile up and we (or perhaps I should be saying “I” because maybe you don’t…) do all we can to turn a blind eye. We ignore, we justify, we rationalize. We do everything but deal with the root cause, because that takes too much effort.
It’s not until we are overrun by our sin — when it hampers our very ability to exist — that we finally get motivated to do something about it.
And when that moment comes, we need help from the outside — it’s time to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession. Without the grace of absolution, our ability to be truly clean, truly whole, truly free of enemy encroachment is impossible. And even with Reconciliation, the remnant of our fallen nature leaves us prey to repeated episodes of sin. We must be vigilant, watching for the conditions that leave us prey to evil. We have to create the pristine environment that keeps our souls sin-free. Are we willing to make the effort?
As I’m in the midst of my ant-battle, as well as the constant battle for my soul, I can’t foretell the resolution. I’m hoping for the best – for a quick clean up, a change in my ways and the fortitude to do what I know is necessary to keep both ants and sin at bay.
I’ll keep you posted.