I decided to book a last minute flight to Florida. I knew my Rabbi had hosted a Sukkot retreat in Florida for some years but I didn’t live in Florida and Florida was a long way to go. I really wanted to go, but being a very broke student and/or recent graduate each time the retreat came along I didn’t think I could go. Then one of my friends mentioned she was going one year and that would mean there were even more people I wanted to see in the same place. That was enough to push me over the edge from wishful thinking to going.
Although the deadline for the retreat was past I spoke to one of the coordinators who worked things out for me to be able to stay there, so I booked a flight and off to Florida I went. But not before stocking up on some snacks and other camping essentials like flashlights and bug repellent- which ended up repelling more than the bugs as you will soon learn. My mom told me I should probably test the bug spray before taking it on the trip because I tended to be sensitive to chemicals and random stuff in the past but since it was made with natural ingredients I figured it should be fine. But that wasn’t how things turned out.
When I arrived at the retreat center in Florida I saw massive swarms of bugs- lots of bugs-with a red spot near their heads. Not being from the area I was shocked. I didn’t know what they were and my friend wasn’t sure either. After the locals showed up I was really tempted to jokingly ask if God hated Florida all the time or if this pestilence was just a seasonal affliction. But I didn’t want my joke to be taken wrong so I kept most of the questions within myself and just asked about the bugs that flew around attached to their mates. I was informed by a few people that they are love bugs and that there may have been more love bugs in the particular area we were because of a food source but while they are annoying they are otherwise harmless. But annoying may have been an understatement. The amount of bugs really reminded me of a Biblical plague.
After seeing so many love bugs the the thought of how extremely stubborn Pharaoh must have been came to me in a new light. With the amount of love bugs I saw during Sukkot I felt I would have been willing to let Israel go based on that alone and love bugs don't even bite like the lice God did send into Egypt and cannot even begin compare with one of the plagues from God. While people were building the Sukkah I decided I hated having love bugs near me and I wasn’t going to tolerate them anymore. I went back to my cabin to use the bug repellent, which ended up repelling me instead.
I felt ill soon after putting it on. I thought of calling 911 in panic, but opted to call my friend for help instead when I couldn’t find my allergy pills to make sure I only did what was necessary to end an allergic reaction. I quickly stripped off the bug repellent scented clothing and tried to wash it off as best I could. Fortunately I found and took my allergy medicine and I felt better before she even arrived to help.
And you know what? All of a sudden those love bugs didn’t bug me so much. I’d rather learn to love a love bug than die. Although I regretted not testing the bug repellent beforehand to avoid the fright the reaction to it gave me if I didn’t bring any bug repellent at all I probably would have spent the few days of the retreat regretting I didn’t have any instead of appreciating my health and what I did have and simply enjoy being able to be there.
Sometimes in life we go through things think we can’t handle when in reality it could be worse. That isn’t said to minimize the current situation of course since worse doesn’t make bad good, but it is best not to need a wake up call to appreciate what you have while you have it. Sometimes I think God may indeed allow bad things to happen so we can wake up and see the good that we would have otherwise been blinded to. So when things are bugging you look at the positive things you do have. “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
Picture originally found here