It’s been a ridiculously bad year. For fleas, that is. Something about the summer being so hot with little rain, blah blah blah, I didn’t really listen because all I could see is the wretched fleas biting my ankles and hitching rides on my dog into my house.
So we’ve treated. EVERYTHING!! (Which costs an arm and a leg, mind you) Again and again, and then again and again. I’m itchy just thinking about it all. Thank God fleas can’t live on humans and aren’t like head lice or chiggers or any of those nasty parasitic burrowing buggers that need to be surgically or chemically removed from your body.
One day, about 2 weeks into the ‘Great flea infestation of 2012’ (which hasn’t ended, mind you), I got angry. We would find a bug or two and we’d treat the whole house as best we can. Then we’d see nothing for a day or two and think, “are they gone?” and the next day we’d find two more, and the whole process would start over. I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d had enough. I blew up at my husband, at God, I cried, kicked and screamed, raged against the jumping critters and then settled nicely into a little blue funk. “I hate this, why us?”
When the words of a very wise woman appeared before me:
“Why don’t you face the reality of identifications with the poor, which is so much at the heart of the spirit of Madonna House and its foundress – a simple reality of cockroaches, bedbugs, and other unpleasant insects? Many of you might not have them, but some may. You, of course, are privileged in that you may buy things to kill them. This you should do for the sake of health and cleanliness. But perhaps some time you will have to live in such quarters where you will just have to endure these things. The poor have to live in places where the whole house and neighbourhood are infested with rats, mice, and other things which cannot be eliminated. How far does your identification go?”
~Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, Dearly Beloved Volume 1, pg 137
She got my attention, that’s for sure. I’m one of the privileged ones.
My brother and sister-in-law had a major infestation last year due to a couple cats that didn’t belong to them (hence they could not give them away). My SIL had major allergic reactions to the flea-bites – significant swelling and itching - and they could do nothing about the problem except continue on with their feeble attempts to de-flea their home. We have nothing like that suffering, and yet I complain. I complain because they’re in my home and they’re annoying. I complain because I catch a glimpse of 1 here and there, and silently castigate God for creating these beasts of the insect world. I consistently (and maybe consciously) forget about my brothers and sisters around the world who suffer greatly from insects and vermin, from which they will never be free.
I’m hoping that our infestation will be short-lived. We’ll try to keep up our vigilance, continuing to purchase products to kill the fleas and hopefully, we will eventually triumph. I now thank God for fleas while adding the prayer, “keep them out of our house”. I also thank God for Borax, flea spray, flea powder, flea collars and vacuum cleaners. My grandmother once told me the story of when she and her family lived in a work camp during the war. She said the bugs were intolerable, and the tent walls were “moving with insects” every morning when she would get up (Ugh!). Yet every morning she would calmly take a can of kerosene and douse the walls of the tent in an attempt to kill the bugs, and then go on with her daily duties. This is what I will do (except not with kerosene). Put my best effort forward to remove the “unwanteds” and I will do it in solidarity with all the poor of this world, while praying for those who not only have to deal with fleas, but with every manner of degradation.
“Consider it pure joy then, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4