Every Summer we fight a battle with flying insects in our home. They come in all shapes and sizes, from errant fireflies needlessly signaling their way in the bright of our rooms, to various beetles and gnat-like flies crawling up lampshades, meandering down the walls, suspended from the ceiling, circling in orbits around our heads, and whirring around our ears. While we are called to love our neighbors and my definition of neighbor is expansive and challenging, I don’t yet love these neighbors. At least not here, inside my home.
How they intrude is unclear. The doors are not left standing open, as we slip in briskly and close them behind us, as if something is chasing us. Windows? Shut, as air conditioning is on. In fact, in our middle-aged home where gravity is driving all things downward, some windows will not even open anymore. One day the front of our home may be Suess-like, with off-center windows, mis-shapen and sad, windows about which real estate agents speak of as giving the house“character.” Seals around doors? Tight, seemingly impermeable. So tight, on one, that I have to lean on the door to get the dead-bolt to click. Click? Thud, rather, the satisfying sound of safety. My paranoia? Real. It is as if our walls are porous, allowing the insect world to march right in, and we are without defense, without arms.
One way of making peace with these small intruders is to see them as a metaphor, a common-defense mechanism for me that sometimes works. In fact, everything in life is a metaphor for something else and, as Dorothy Sayers once said, “all thinking is analogic,” that is by analogy. But let’s talk about that some other time, as there are more pressing matters to address.
I imagine myself explaining to a group of rapt listeners in some theology class or, at least to my two slightly bored cats, feigning interest, about the imperfect nature of our theological constructs and how they must bend and be malleable enough to be shaped by the Word, as they are our constructs, not God’s, our approximation of His truth, not infallible Truth, how the pesky insects are the annoying passages of Scripture that don’t seem to fit our perfect theological world, one we think immune to serious attack.
Wham! “Die, sucker!” Yuch. I wipe a smashed beetle off my hand. I’m failing at love of neighbor, I’m afraid. I hate these bugs. I’m sorry. Sometimes metaphor doesn’t work. Sometimes it takes a death. Sometimes it takes sacrifice and blood. But wait. . . that’s another metaphor.