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Go to the Ant

This fall on an early morning walk, something caught my eye in my peripheral vision. What I first thought it might be was not what it was on closer inspection. When I sent this picture to our children, I had to preface it with “You may think your father is going crazy taking pictures of cracks in the road.” Even when I uploaded this picture, Google tried to add that this is “A crack in the concrete” as an explanation of what the picture is about. It is not a crack in the road. In fact, I took a couple of videos of this “crack.” What caught my eye that morning was that the “crack” was moving. I had never seen a crack in the road move before and I still have not. What was moving were two lines of ants going in each direction. The ants were systematically moving across the road. There were ants carrying small objects. Others were just travelers going from one side to the other. Why? I do not know. What were they working on? I do not know. What I do know is that I was amazed at their organization and activity with no visible “management” directing the activity. It appeared to the human eye that each little ant knew exactly what to do and where to go next.

Proverbs 6:6-8 verifies this when it says, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, study her ways and learn wisdom; for though she has no chief, no commander or ruler, she procures her food in the summer, stores up her provisions in the harvest.” The contrast in this proverb is interesting: the ant and the sluggard. From what I could see that morning, there were no sluggards in that line. Everyone was moving, no one was standing on the side watching everyone else work. And there were no apparent bosses; no one was directing traffic.

What can we learn from the ant? St. Benedict in his Rule in Chapter Four says, “Refrain from too much eating or sleeping and from laziness.” In other words, be like the ant and stop being a sluggard. St. Paul says in II Thes. 3:10, “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” Work is not a curse. God gave Adam work to do before the fall. It is apparent that God, St. Benedict, and the ants in their wisdom know what is best for us.


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