This morning I awoke to a front yard that looked like it had been bombed by tiny bombs. Small holes about six inches deep and a couple inches across. A dozen or more of them. Not the first time I have encountered these holes but they had been in the back yard before. Now here was our lawn torn up for all to see. Since becoming a home owner in Florida with a little less than an acre to care for, I have been frustrated with fire ants, watching wasp nests form, surprised by snakes, awakened by barking frogs, taking notes on new breeds of spiders, tracking opossums, and now, discovering that fighting an armadillo is pointless. There is nothing you can do. They are hard to catch at their digging. They are nearly impossible to trap. You might be able to poison your lawn to kill off all the grubs they feed on but who knows what else you would kill. If you stayed up all night you might shoot one but it is not recommended in residential neighborhoods. One Florida wildlife brochure said to look on the bright side: they aerate your lawn and keep the grub population down.
I was not feeling the bright side this morning. What am I going to do, I wondered. Sell the place? Who wants to buy an armadillo war zone? I sat down to read with a cup of coffee and a book by Norman Wirzba. Wirzba is a professor of theology and ecology at Duke. He writes about the importance of creation. Christians have often left the world behind or lived as if they were waiting to. Ecology has not often been uttered in the context of theology. Creation has taken a back seat to salvation and salvation has had little to do with material creation. In contrast, hear this word from Wirzba: "any form of disparagement and abandonment of creation amounts to a denial of God." In modern times, he says human beings are the ones who determine the measures by which everything is sorted and weighed... resulting in a remaking of the world that brings satisfaction and glory to us. This experiment in engineering has led to the twin disasters of genocide and ecocide.
Creatureliness is Wirzba's word for the way of life that is faithful to God. It is nurturing and healing instead of degrading and destructive. It is Christ centered rather than self centered. He challenges Christians to think again about the reasons the earliest creation story in the Bible takes place in a garden. Gardens are places where we learn our limitations, our inefficiencies and our essential passivity when it comes to dealing with weather, parasites, blight and armadillos! Give me all the Roundup in the world and I am still not in control of life. Gardens are places where we learn about death and life. Gardens teach us about the interdependence of all created life. "Creatureliness is inescapably marked by need and by dependence on fellow creatures and a creator." Creaturely life is possible, quoting David Kelsey, only because it breathes a borrowed breath from God."
So that is why I began to see armadillos differently and thank God for them.