Friday, May 27, 2022

I want to bug you about being hospitable to strangers

| September 30, 2021 1:00 AM

Hebrews 13:2, from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

A few months ago, we had two visitors to our garden. Apparently, they have decided to make it their permanent home. They are praying mantises (Latin name Mantis religiosa).

Praying mantises were reportedly present in the northeastern portion of the United States some 100 years ago; however, they were likely purposefully brought over from Europe at that time. It is now not uncommon to spot them here in Moses Lake.

Our garden has other occupants. One of these is the common western honeybee (Apis mellifera) that we see every day. They share space with paper wasps (Polistes dominula), wool-carder bees (Anthidium maculosum) and seven-spot ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata). I even recently encountered a lone leopard slug (Limax maximus).

Did you know that all of the above are non-natives that were either purposefully or accidentally brought over from other countries? Quite a surprise, right?

One much-maligned and misunderstood creature accidentally introduced into Washington state is the hobo spider (Eratigena agrestis). In the past, they have had a very bad reputation here.

There have been many horrific stories told about this spider. Yet where they originated in Europe, they have never caused much of a stir. There is no fuss about them over there. Why is this? Why are they not seen in the same light as we have treated them – as being extremely dangerous?

In reality, this spider is no more dangerous than many other common species in our state. It is no longer widely believed that a bite from a hobo spider will cause tissue damage or skin death (necrosis).

Also, in the United States, they were once given the name of “aggressive house spider.” In reality, this was a misinterpretation of its Latin species name “agrestis,” which does not mean aggressive at all. It simply means “rural,” “in the field” or “country,” which indicates where they were most often found.

Speaking of coming from somewhere, my heritage is like this. It is true that I was born in this country, but both sides of my family tree came from elsewhere. They made the journey by boat. My father didn’t learn English for many years. The household was primarily Swedish-speaking.

In the history of our country, we have had the tendency to distrust the latest group that has made the trip. There also can be a lot of misinformation about them cast far and wide. I think a lot of that talk may not always represent reality.

A few weeks back, I watched people on television fleeing Afghanistan. For some, their new home will be in our country.

I pray that we as a society would be gracious to them. I hope to welcome them as I hope people once welcomed my ancestors. I remember how difficult it was for “my people.” Falsehoods could have easily been told about them.

I hope and pray that we can find it within ourselves to be a positive example with others that have come after us.

“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34, New Revised Standard Version.)

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.