Brother Scorpion, Sister Mosquito

June 5, 2007 | 16 comments

It would appear that God’s plan for my life has something to do with scorpions. I saw yet another one on the kitchen floor this morning, which was actually less disconcerting than the one that was running at me on my bathroom floor a couple weeks ago (a terrifying seven feet away from my bed, where I SLEEP, that I prefer to be a scorpion-free zone). My house is full of them*.

But I digress.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Francis, and trying to use his model of love, charity, simplicity and unrestrained joy at all of God’s creation in my daily life. The problem I’m having is with that last one. You see, St. Francis lived in Assisi, Italy. I live in central Texas.

I admire the simple beauty of his lovely Canticle of the Sun, and am really trying to find that sort of ecstatic joy in God’s amazing creations that are all around me. And, indeed, some days I too feel overjoyed by simply noticing Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

It really starts to break down, however, when I see Brother Scorpion on my kitchen floor. I know that these are God’s amazing creations and all, but I am not at a level of spiritual maturity when I can appreciate God’s creations of the stinger- and pincer-having variety in my house.

I also don’t feel particularly Franciscan when Brother Sun and Sister Humidity are in full force around mid-July, and when Sister Baseball-Sized Hail causes $2, 000 in damage to our car. That vague itching sensation reminds me not to forget Sister Mosquito, and the neighbors say we have some Brother Rattlesnakes to watch out for in the area behind my back yard fence. Did I mention Sister Six-Inch Millipede With These Crazy Fang-Looking Things who I met on my front porch yesterday?

So…I am trying to soak in the beauty of God’s creation all around me, but I have to admit it’s a lot easier in, say, February. As the Texas summer begins and we are reminded once again that we are living in a climate inhospitable to human life, it becomes a little more difficult to live by St. Francis’ example. But I suppose that it really is all something to marvel at: the symmetry, the complexity, the simplicity of everything around us. It really is all wondrously beautiful, if you look at it the right way. Even Brother Scorpion.

* By “full of them” I mean I’ve seen six scorpions within the past couple of months. Though the case could be made that an average scorpion-sighting rate of 0.75 per week does not a “HOUSE FULL OF SCORPIONS!!!!” make, it’s far more than enough to meet my definition.


  1. Amber

    Yeah, this is so why I will NEVER move to Texas. 😀

    But life has a funny way of working sometimes, so perhaps I shouldn’t make statements like that!

  2. Barb, sfo

    Go easy on yourself. Francis was no fan of “Brother Fly” according to the stories.

  3. melanieb


    This post had me laughing out loud.

    I don’t know about Assisi in Francis’ day, but when I lived in Rome back in my college days, a friend who had a room in the basement once found a scorpion in his boot. So it’s possible St. Francis did have a chance to come across the nasty little buggers. Sadly, I’ve never heard an account of his reaction. I’m intrigued by Barb’s account of Brother Fly.

    I think, though, one can feel joy and amazement at the marvelous fact of the scorpion’s existence while still feeling alarm at finding him in one’s house.

    Reading about Brother Humidity and Sister Hail made me think about my favorite canticle from the Liturgy of the Hours (Daniel 3: 57-88, 56). Here’s an excerpt:

    “…Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.
    All you winds, bless the Lord.
    Fire and heat, bless the Lord.
    Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
    Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
    Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
    Ice and snow, bless the Lord.
    Nights and days, bless the Lord.
    Light and darkness, bless the Lord.
    Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord….”

    I think one could add to it:
    baseball sized hail, bless the Lord. Cyclone clouds, bless the Lord…. 😉

  4. Peter

    Hmmm. I was taught that the nasty crawly bitey stuff was a result of the fall, not God’s intended perfect creation.

    I was taught this by Protestants mind you. Perhaps I should read some more Francis?

  5. Christine

    LOL! One thing I will NOT miss from Florida are the never-dying bugs. At least here I get a respite from them.

    And I am not so sure that I like Brother Spider in my house. If God wants me to appreciate them, I think He ought to tell them to stay outdoors. I won’t kill them out there, but they are fair game in my house, esp. when I don’t know if they are brown recluse or Black Widows or what. (We are blessed with both here in SW VA.)

    BTW, speaking of spiders and scorpions, when I lived in Florida and was newly married, Hubby and I lived in a townhouse that his father owned. There were always housekeeping spiders (WARNING: LARGE, SCARY PICTURES!!) in the house, which apparently weren’t affected by the exterminator’s handywork. (“They have to get the poison on their bellies for it to affect them, which is hard because of their long legs.” Thanks. What am I paying you for again?) But then I found small, black scorpions in my bathroom. I called up the exterminator (again) and said, “I know you’ve told me that you can’t do much about the spiders, and I can understand an occasional palmetto bug, but I draw the line when it comes to scorpions!!!”

    After they tried reassuring me that the little buggers weren’t poisonous and they were being driven in from the woods behind the townhouse by the excessive rain, and I replied that I really didn’t give a rip if they were or not get them the hell out of my house, they agreed to come and spray.

    Yeah, I really like that the bugs all die here every winter. Even if they lay eggs and I still have a few spiders to kill every summer, at least I don’t have them all year long. I love winter.

  6. Kathy

    We have many a Brother Bat in our neighborhood, and I am grateful for the way they eat Sister Mosquitoes (who carry Brother West Nile Virus). But I am much less grateful when the stray Brother Bat somehow wanders into my house.

  7. Patrick

    I live in central Texas too. This morning at 2am my son woke me to complain that Brother Tarantula was threatening him.

    My investigation revealed a large brown fuzzy thing on the floor with more legs than I could count at that hour. I picked him up with a towel and threw him out the window. (The tarantula, not the boy, though I was tempted.)

    I am told these critters are beneficial because they eat mosquitos. I would be happier if they would dine outside the house, though.

  8. Jeron

    Scorpions?! Oh, the hell with that!!! Grab a boot & go to town! I scream like a little girl at the sight of a small spider (much less at a brown recluse – one which tried biting me in the bathroom 3 years ago; I’m still traumatized).
    And I’ve been to Texas a couple of times. One of those visits was for 4 weeks of field training (the ROTC officer candidate version of boot camp) in San Antonio. To this day I distinctly recall the feeling of fire ants swarming up my arms as I was doing push-ups in the sand. Jen, you have my sympathies.

  9. Stephanie

    Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.

    Hmm…wonder if that means I can stomp on a scorpion and expect it not to sting me? *lol*

    Ugh, all this bug talk is freaking me out!! Fortunately, we haven’t seen any scorpions at my house…*crossing fingers.* Just big ugly roaches and spiders of various shapes and sizes. I’m not sure I could handle scorpions…blech.

  10. Christine


    The worst thing about the Brown Recluse thing is that I’m not sure what they look like. Every picture I’ve forced myself to look at shows the stupid things from the belly.


    Also, telling me how big it is without showing me a picture of it next to something easily identifiable (a dime, perhaps?) DOES NOT HELP because I am also not going to get a ruler and measure the stupid thing! I will either get Hubby to crush it without mercy or I will get my vacuum cleaner and try to suck it into the dust bin. Then, if I’m not sure it’s dead, the vacuum can sit in the garage until Hubby empties it. Just like with the ladybugs this past Spring.

  11. Jonathan

    “As the Texas summer begins and we are reminded once again that we are living in a climate inhospitable to human life, it becomes a little more difficult to live by St. Francis’ example.”

    This echos muy sentiments as each Southeastern summer rolls around every year as well. All we can do is pray for y’all in Texas. At least its not Houston right?

  12. Darwin

    I think that St. Francis is not what you need in this situation. Perhaps, instead, you need to fall back on the Albigensian Crusade and proclaim: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

    Then call Brother Pest Control Man and you should be all set.

  13. Theocoid

    Yeah, I have a story about a certain Brother Wasp from when I was around 7 years old. I took Sister Shirley’s story about St,. Francis quite literally. The wasp, unfortunately, did not.

  14. majellamom

    Well, you are making me feel much better about visiting my MILs house! After two visits in a row of seeing black widow spiders (she SWEARS they are a spider that tries to LOOK like black widows, and that the spot should be on the belly instead of on the back…I don’t stay anywhere near enough to any spider to identify!) and the fact that everyone around there has seen an unusually high number of rattlesnakes this year (AHHH!!!)

    But the whole scorpion thing is making me feel a little better about spiders and snakes…though this whole discussion is freaking me out at least as much as a recent discussion about ticks on danielle bean’s site…

    And totally unrelated, but I am asking for prayers for my mother, Donna Holmes, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thank you!

  15. Adoro te Devote

    OK, I gotta chime in on this. In MN, we don’t have scorpions, but we have mosquitos that would carry small children away. And we have some large spiders (although thankfully not huntsman spiders, even though the horrors outside my door in the summer look a lot lik them).

    I have two bushes outside my door, and the only reason I haven’t ripped them out is because of the flowers that bloom on them in May and June (and once in October thanks to St. Therese).

    This bush attracts HUGE funnel weaving spiders. I think they are grass spides…I hate spiders but I did some reasearch, sort of a “know thy enemy” sort of thing. They would cover my doorbell, and every morning I shuddered uncontrollably as I opened my front door wondering if they would have placed a funnel over the front door.

    Last summer I found a spider spray, though, and sprayed the bushes, the side of the townhome I live in, the base, the thresholds, and the bases of the windows around the my entire home.

    It was the first summer I didn’t have those horrors, although my neihbors on either side of me still had webs all over their siding and under their eaves. And it was the first summer I got to hear the crickets.

    I’d never before realized I hadn’t heard the crickets…because the predators had eaten them all.

    The stuff is called Ortho X or something like that. Got it at Home Depot but I’ve seen it at Target or Wal mart, too.

    Thank God we don’t have scorpions up here!

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