Written July 5, 2012
These past summer evenings I’m often bent behind green in the garden, digging around for new produce. Usually a little girl follows a few minutes behind. She’ll be playing on the swings or riding on the dog, until she notices where I’ve drifted. She enters the garden gate with questions . . .
“Mommy can I help you?” “Can I step right here?” “Is this a weed?” “Can I pull it?” Then exclamations come, ” Look at all these green tomatoes!” and “The watermelon has lots of flowers!” I feel like one of the plants soaking up joy like water in that garden we planted together.
Recently I’ve noticed a new accompaniment to our gardening. The cicadas are out, making their unmistakable sound. So the other night, while Emily pulled one last weed she asked, “What’s that called again, making that loud buzzing noise?”
“That’s semi,” I answered (Cicada in Japanese is pronounced “seh-mee” and we often use that word because our language at home is often a pidgin of English and Japanese).
“Oh yeah! They fly around and around and make the noise when they’re flying!” she explained as she traced a path with her finger in the air .
“Actually,” I say, “they don’t fly around that much. When they make their sound they’re just holding onto the trees.”
“. . . Why?” She asks, as usual.
“Well, that’s just their job,” I answered . . . “What’s your job?”
By then we were walking hand in hand back to the house. She didn’t hear me ask, but my own question stayed with me. I pondered for a moment the shortness of a cicada’s life, at least above ground. They live as nymphs under ground, for 2 up to 17 years for some varieties. Afterward, they burrow up through the ground to hang out and dry. Upwards they go, clinging to a tree with a job to mark time, the season of summer with their recognizable, would you call it,”song”? What a hidden existence. Underground for most of life and not easy to spot for their short life above ground, were it not for their noise.
As I asked my little girl that question, “What’s your job?,” I thought of it’s simplicity and complexity. Her job and mine is to praise our Maker. She is doing her job simply . . . sees the world with wonder, giggles at bubbles flying around, wanting me to watch every new move she makes, dancing like a princess with a sparkler in her hand last night on the 4th, she is happy to be. I think about how difficult I make my job of praising to be, worrying whether I’m doing it right or well.
The sound of the cicada’s tympanum tells me that somehow my existence is doing part of my job, by simply being made, breath in my lungs.
I look down at the little person bouncing beside me. I have no skill of knitting cells together in my own womb. Her heart began beating as unnoticeable and automatically as my heart is beating now, much like the underground life of the cicadas’ around us. I hear their creaking and watch her skipping . . . and without effort, I praise Him.
Please consider clicking the song below. “Every Breath” by Gungor, a very sweet sound.