“Honey, don’t look up. Just slowly get up and go to the bedroom,” I said as I eyed the giant silverfish sitting on the wall about seven feet above my wife’s head.
It was yesterday. Sunday morning. And we were just finishing up breakfast on the couch. Buttered chocolate-chip bread for her, and that plus a bowl of breakfast candy (Cocoa Puffs) for me.
I don’t know what made me look up, but I did. And there it was. Images from my book The Man in the Box flashed into my mind. I must be a prophet, I thought to myself. Except, this wasn’t a centipede as the characters in my book are apt to encounter. This was a silverfish.
A silverfish is similar to a centipede, and honestly, I don’t know which one is grosser. I had never even heard of a silverfish until I moved to Kentucky, but I learned quickly that they blend in more, so they’re harder to spot, and they’re quicker than centipedes, so they’re harder to catch.
I don’t suggest Googling them. Just imagine a centipede with larger legs and long curly antenna.
“Go to the bedroom,” I told Sarabeth. She grabbed the dogs and did as I said.
This was my moment to shine. I grabbed my sword (fly swatter) from the storage room and returned to the wall above the couch where the silverfish remained, eying me. Daring me. Taunting me.
I had to climb up onto the backside of the couch to get a good swat in. And that’s where I met my dillimma. The silverfish was close to the corner of the wall, and you know that that’s the worst place for a bug to be when armed only with just the face of a fly swatter.
You must meticulously graze the adjasent wall with the edge of the swatter at a rapid enough speed to stun – no, disable – the offender. Yet if you swat too hard, you run the risk of chipping the paint off the wall or making a long, bug-gutted scratch.
The other threat that was posed to me was that if I didn’t kill my opponent on the first try, it would fall twelve feet onto the carpet below, behind the couch, and could scurry any which way.
And we all know that a lost bug really is a phantom bug just waiting to strike – especially when you’re on the couch enjoying the latest episode of Downton. (Poor Matthew, right?? And, I’m sorry, but Thomas is absolutely detestable, so they might as well not try to redeem him.)
So there I stood, precariously on the back of the couch, clad in my jamie-jams, hair disheveled, bright green $2 plastic weapon in hand. A true knight.
My foe is stunned, and furiously clutches to my weapon. I lose my footing, possibly due to a premature celebratory jig. But as I fall, I lose hold of the fly swatter, but manage to fling my assailant into the bowl lamp standing behind the couch. The bug is trapped, and I continue to fall and my foot lands on the soft cushion of the couch
and twists. Ker-Rack!!
Words are scattered into the air that Sarabeth attempts to rebuke from the bedroom. This is not a very good way to prepare for church which starts 45 minutes.
I would have gotten up much quicker if I hadn’t made sure the silverfish was trapped in the lamp.
With sweat dripping from my brow and the bones clanking in my right foot, I manage to get back up and find the silverfish curled up by the bulb in the lamp, just as stunned as I am.
I should have just turned the light on and let it burn. But this job had to be finished sooner rather than later. Plus, I don’t really want to know what burnt bug smells like.
So, having convinced myself that the silverfish is either dead or too injured to move, I scooped it out of the lamp with my fly swatter – you know, because the laws of nature will just work out in my favor: the bug will stick to it, and I’ll have no problem carrying it over the couch across the room, open the window and fling it out -
and it falls.
Down behind the couch.
And it runs.
I didn’t know which way it ran. Heck, I didn’t even know if ran or limped or skipped away with glee and giggles. All I know is that it was not where it had fallen.
“I’m not sitting back on that couch until you find it,” Sarabeth said.
Now our lazy Sunday afternoon plans were at stake.
This. Just. Got. Serious.
So I searched far and wide for the little brute. I felt like Tom Hanks searching for Private Ryan. It was going to be a long day. And the little devil would have a long morning finding the perfect hiding spot while we were at church. Maybe it would even find a mate and have babies by the time we got back.
Church. Oh, yeah. And I remembered the book we are going through as a congregation in our small group. Paul Miller opens up his book, A Praying Life with a story about his daughter losing her contact outside in the grass on a camping trip. After searching for it, they pray. And they find it.
To be honest, I rolled my eyes at this story, because that always happens to someone else.
I could do with a little more faith in my life. And I didn’t pray to find the silverfish as a ploy to test God. I didn’t even have faith that I would find the silverfish, because so much time had passed and at this point it could be anywhere.
But something very, very deep inside me had just enough faith in the One to whom I was praying. And just like Jesus told the fishermen to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, I went to the other side of the room where I honestly didn’t believe I would find it.
And there it was. Under the love seat waving a little white flag.
Our lazy Sunday afternoon was saved.
But more importantly, my faith in God went up a notch. And you know what? It was worth twisting my foot for.