Developing an Eye for the Scorpion
Moving to Arizona, from the state of Washington, I was pretty oblivious about scorpions. I’d actually only seen the big black kind on the television and equated them with pure evil and death. So you can imagine my fear when I discovered the first bark scorpion in my house.
“Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Luke 11:12
The Bible even used the scorpion as a metaphor for something that was the opposite of Good. My exaggerated fear did eventually subside as I learned how to avoid this new danger. Unlike the Brown Recluse or Black widow spider, the scorpion seemed fearlessly blind and clueless to retreat when it was discovered.
The first time I noticed this was when I was sitting on the floor in the middle of my living room and I spotted a very small, dark shadow moving toward me, like it had a heat seeking radar. It was a long way off, so this time I was able to remain calm and observe as it slowly made its way across the shag carpet.
When it got close I jumped up to grab a glass jar. I noticed my quick movement caused it to freeze and flatten itself out from its previous, high stepping, curly tailed, posture. Somehow it was able to make itself look like a very thin, flat piece of paper, something one could easily mistake for a dead leaf.
It was easy for me to capture it as it continued to play dead, but when I forced it inside with a piece of cardboard and put the lid on, it puffed back up and began thrashing its tail violently.
I’ve lived in Arizona for over thirty years now and finding the occasional scorpion in my home has become a normal part of life. Last night I was prompted to write this after spotting the tell-tale, dark shadow on the carpet of a dark bedroom as I passed by. It brought back the memory of my first dark shadow experience but this time I realized something that gave me comfort;
I have Developed an Eye for the Scorpion
Adapting to the possibility of a venomous sting makes it second nature to shake shoes before putting them on, keeping everything up off the floor, even if you’re not tidy, and no more feeling around in your cupboards where you can’t see or jumping into bed without a quick check. If you get up at night, and don’t want to disturb anyone by turning on the light, you learn to keep flip flops by your bed, because walking barefoot in the dark is like playing Russian roulette with a scorpion. It is more likely to freeze in the path of your next step than to run out of your way.
Scorpions lurk in dark places, especially warm, moist environments. If I ever want to check to see if a scorpion might be hiding somewhere all I have to do is leave a warm, damp cloth on the floor overnight. In the morning I shake the cloth and the scorpion freezes, as if I can’t see it if it doesn’t move. This makes it easier to capture, although I occasionally miss as it scurries toward the nearest wall, at least now, I know they don’t attack like a bee protecting its hive.
Scorpions Sting Because We Don’t See Them
People come in contact with Scorpions, in countless ways, when they aren’t looking for them. If we stick our hand into a dark place without first checking it with a light, and continue walking barefoot in the dark, sitting on, rolling over on, or putting on clothes without checking them in the light, that’s when we get stung.
I have learned venomous scorpions, spiders and snakes work hard to produce their venom and they need it to live. They don’t waste it on things they don’t eat, unless they have to. Their actions are as predictable as their existence in keeping the desert vermin and insect population under control.
Unlike the scorpion, we are made to walk in the light. The Light, both figuratively and literally, illuminates the harmful things in this life. It is possible to develop an eye for the scorpion and avoid them by cautiously shining light on those dark shadows.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet And a Light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
“In the Way of Righteousness is Life, And in its pathway there is no death.” Proverbs 12:28