Cicada-ian Rhythm - Scott Dickison
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting … O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Ps. 104
They’ve been preparing for this for the last 17 years and will cause quite a racket this summer.
No, I’m not talking about the new class of high school graduates. I’m talking about the 17-year cicadas you may have heard will be descending upon the east coast this summer.
As a child of the South, the sound of cicadas furiously buzzing and clicking away outside my bedroom window at night remains my favorite sign that summer has arrived (heat lightning is a close second; a phenomenon we may revisit later this summer). These distinctive sounds, I’ve learned, are made by male cicadas when they flex their abdominal muscles, called tymbals, like a child’s clicking toy. The reverberations are intensified in their hollow abdomens, and in some cicadas the resulting sound can exceed 100 decibels—equivalent to a chainsaw!
Aside from their noisy bellies, cicadas have also fascinated nature enthusiasts because of their unique life cycles. This from www.cicadamania.com:
Cicadas begin life as a rice-shaped egg, which the female deposits in a groove she makes in a tree limb … Once the egg hatches the cicada begins to feed on the tree fluids. At this point it looks like a termite or small white ant. Once the young cicada is ready, it crawls from the groove and falls to the ground where it will dig until it finds roots to feed on.
Once roots are found the cicada will stay underground from 2 to 17 years depending on the species. After the long 2 to 17 years, cicadas emerge from the ground as nymphs. Nymphs climb the nearest available tree, and begin to shed their nymph exoskeleton … Once their new wings and body are ready, they can begin their brief adult life.
I’m not big on offering “proof” for the existence of God; the scientific method doesn’t often factor into my faith journey. But when I consider creatures like cicadas and their delightfully peculiar life cycles, I can’t help but see the beauty and wisdom underneath creation. And I can’t help but think that this beauty and wisdom has a source.
So as you lie in bed this summer, unable to sleep for the chainsaw-like sounds of tymbals clicking away, don’t think of insecticide. Think of beauty, think of wisdom, and think of the God who, like a cicada in waiting, is burrowed just underneath the surface of our world, waiting to come alive and catch our ear.