Watching Ants

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken up ant watching as a hobby. I work in a cement building filled with cubicles, so I go outside and enjoy good weather every chance I get.

Last week it was black ants. They’d found a dead horse fly and were busy doing something with it. I watched intently trying to figure out their intended purpose. Seven or so ants managed to flip the fly over and then drag it about a half an inch. I waited for them hoist it on their backs and carry it to their ant hill, but apparently that only happens in cartoons.

Truthfully, I’m not sure if the ants were working together. Their efforts seemed random, one ant pulling the fly one way, another pulling it back.

One ant lifted up a piece of mulch and placed it on top of the fly, at which point I said, “Ah ha, they’re burying it!” Not so. I think the sliver of mulch was just in the little guy’s way.

I waited for the fly to shrink in size, gobbled up by tiny powerful jaws. Nah. That didn’t happen either. I have no idea what those ants were trying to accomplish.

Today in the breezy eighty degree afternoon, I settled down for another ant watching session. Actually, I just sat down. Then I looked down and noticed the ant. A brown one this time, ambling across a mud patch. The sight was surprisingly reassuring. To be a little ant, with small knowledge of its small world, on a mission to benefit his society.

How good it is to know God’s creation is busy all around us, oblivious to human concerns, working dutifully at what we might consider mundane tasks. Animals (and bugs) seem content with their lot, faithfully doing as they were designed, not distracted by smart phones, Facebook, video games, debt ceilings.

Ants don’t jump off bridges. Birds don’t dive bomb the earth to self-obliviate. (Is that a word? I blame Harry Potter.) Can you imagine if all the squirrels in the world starting cutting themselves with nutshells out of angst?

But we humans of higher intelligence have developed myriad ways to self destruct.

I wonder why that is.