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If you live in Tennessee, the Carolinas, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, or Illinois you have something in common—cicadas that have been underground for 13 years are now trying to fly inside your mouth or get caught in your hair. In comparison to the annual “dog day cicadas,” the green and brown ones that tenderly serenade us every summer and mostly stay out of our way, these periodical cicadas are generally regarded as a creepy nuisance with their bulging red eyes and the bzzzz-ttt sound they make when you try to kick them away from your door before going inside.


I like to go for walks in the morning, and there’s no ignoring their presence when I’m trekking down the sidewalk. This emergence, which some people have dubbed “cicadapocalypse,” includes millions of these bugs just droning away. The male cicadas make the noisiest sounds as they call out, looking for females cicadas willing to mate. The males are designed with a hollow abdomen where the sound can bounce around, ramping up the volume so that their combined “wolf-whistle” can be as loud as a motorcycle engine. Then the single-and-ready-to-mingle females respond with a clicking sound made with their wings.


On a recent walk as I listened to the pulsing whine of the cicadas, I thought about the verses that describe nature singing praises to God. Read through Psalm 96 and you’ll be rewarded with poetry such as: “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.” Thinking of the cicadas’ sound as a song meant for God beautifies their noisy vibrations, upgrading it from an annoyance to an echoing hymn of praise for a Creator who kept them safe 8-feet underground for more than a decade.


And just like those male cicadas who are crying out for someone (in their case, a red-eyed lady friend with a talent for wing-clicking), we can also call out for (capital-L) Love. Deep inside our hollowness, where fear and loneliness and sorrow can threaten to drown us, we can begin to rejoice with a single word or thought centered on God’s goodness. We can let even that small contribution of praise echo inside us until it grows into a symphony of worship.



Cicada Song

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