Tuesday, April 25

Symbolic

My parents have lived in their house for nearly 40 years. While many important things have happened in that house, the fact remains that it is old. It was considered old even when they bought it. As an old house in a rural area it is especially suceptible to penetration by bugs. Ants, spiders, mosquitos, may flies, june bugs and many others frequented our floors and walls. One morning my sister found that she was showering with a tarantula. Once my brother found, and caught a black widow spider that had a thorax with a diameter the size of a nickle That spider lived in a jar forgotten in his room while he was on his mission, and was still alive when he came back. Bugs don't bother me. I'll pick up a daddy long leg with my bare hands. I'll stomp on crunchy bugs, and kill scary poisonous spiders without trepidation. This non-fear of bugs proved useful many times. In junior high when boys would try to scare me with insects, in college when my roommate would come unglued at even the tiniest spider, in showing my husband that I'm a reasonable cool headed person worth marrying. My achilles heel, however, is cockroaches.
The climate that I grew up in just wasn't condusive for roaches. I was 22 before I'd seen a real roach without plexiglass between us. My fear of roaches borders on paranoia, which completely bewilders my husband. He grew up in a city where roaches just were. It wasn't unusual to leave a bag of trash on the ground outside overnight and have it be covered with roaches in the morning. To him, they are just another pest, like ants. To me they are a symbol of all that is unwholesome in this world.
I think I trace my paranoia back to my sister. She served part of her mission in Yuma AZ. Between the heat, the farms, and her crappy apartment there were a lot of roaches in her life. This particular sister is the sort that does freak out about bugs. So the roaches, like most any bug, were horrific to her. Combine that with the fact that there was a lot of them, and she came unglued. She has some great stories about talking to the Elders on the phone, seeing a roach, screaming bloody murder and hanging up midconversation, which was unsettling to the Elders.
I heard these stories at a young, impressionable age. And so roaches became the uber-pest. The undefeatable foe of cleanliness. Roaches were indicitive of filth, disease, and rot. So one can imagine my horror at seeing a roach in my kitchen. I'm convinced that if I opened the walls there would be piles and piles of them, spilling out onto the floor. A tidal wave of roachy filth. When I shower or wash my hands I glance furtively at the drain pipes, certain that the second I turn the water off the invasion will begin and roaches will come streaming up from the plumbing. My first thought when I saw a roach in my kitchen was that we needed to move. The apartment was lost to the roaches and could never be reclaimed.
So, consider this; If a teacher were to say that some sin to was like a roach infestation of the soul, it would mean something drastically different to me than it would to my husband. To me, it would nearly mean that the person's soul is lost forever, and would mean that Christ's atonement is a true miracle to get rid of such a pervasive and horrible menace. To my husband, it would make the repentance process a simple, but ongoing process, requiring constance vigilance. I wonder how aware we are of the many ways that analogies can be recieved, and how those meanings can change. Also, can we, in our modern world, really understand what it means to leave 99 sheep to look for one? Does burying treasure in a field still mean what it once did? Was the change in understanding somewhat planned? In other words, was Christ aware of how people in our time would percieve those analogies, and is our percieved meaning more correct for us?

5 comments:

Rich said...

Another very interesting and insightful glimpse into understanding. It seems clear that the best kinds of analogies will find some kind of relevancy and fit for each generation and locale that makes it more meaningful for them.

Very few critters give me the creeps. I love spiders, scorpions, snakes, and even roaches don't bother me (they are a brilliant pinnacle of evolutionary perfection in fact!). Now wasps on the other hand... they bear the stamp of malicious evil that makes me wonder if God didn't let Satan try his hand at a few creature designs... ;o)

PS, Symbolic is spelled with only one 'L'.

Starfoxy said...

Symbolic, duely noted. I have dictionary widget on my desktop, but I'm often just too lazy to use it.

Your wondering about Satan creating wasps reminds me of a Swedish legend I read in "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils" about Småland and Skåne. God was making Småland and St. Peter came by and wanted to try his hand at making a country. God let St. Peter finish Småland while he started on Skåne. When Peter was done with Småland he came over to Skåne and saw how beautiful and fertile God had made the land. When he showed God what he had done to Småland God exclaimed "what have you done to it!?" Peter had amateurishly covered the whole land with a rocky pile and a scarce layer of topsoil thinking it would become a tropical paradise because it was near the sun. God then said "I'll have to make the Smålanders especially smart and thrifty to live in this wreck you've made." He then sent St. Peter to go make the Skåninge (people who live in Skåne), because any sort of person could live well in beautiful easy-to-farm Skåne.

Rich said...

Are you Scandinavian? Have you read any of Astrid Lindgren's books, like Ronja Rövardotter? Some of them are pretty cool (some are a bit strange). My youngest enjoyed them long ago when I would read to her...

Starfoxy said...

I'm mostly Swedish, all of my husband's family is Danish. I've read Pippi Longstocking that was a long long time ago though. I should write a post about the trip my family took to Sweden to visit relatives.

Rich said...

My first love, Kristina, was a Swedish foreign-exchange student from Stockholm. She had a big influence on my life, however brief our relationship lasted (I met her 4 months before I left on my mission).

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