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Lessons from an Ant

The view of Sister Carol Nolan's backyard where she encountered the ant that inspired this reflection. Sister Carol lives and ministers in Coachella, California where she oversees Providence in the Desert, a ministry teaching the English language to immigrant workers.

A view of Sister Carol Nolan’s backyard where she encountered the ant that inspired this reflection. Sister Carol lives and ministers in Coachella, California, where she oversees Providence in the Desert, a ministry teaching the English language to immigrant workers.

Recently as I was sitting on our patio for my morning prayer, a tiny ant fell onto my leg.

I tried to brush it off without hurting it, but when it fell to the concrete it was clearly injured. I was trying to decide whether to step on it and put it out of its misery or see if it might recover. At that moment another little ant came up and touched it, then circled around it a few times. Then a second ant approached. The first ant went away, and the second one touched and circled around the injured ant.

A third ant came and went through the same routine. At that point I stood up and was ready to put my toe on it. Then a fourth ant came up, and after several tries, got under the injured ant and made a beeline for a crack between two sections of concrete.

Clearly the ants know how to “take care of their own!” And maybe we think we do, too. But our new understanding of the cosmology and of creation is bringing us to a fresh look at “Who is my neighbor?”

What implication does the “Big Bang” have for our understanding of our place in the universe? What does it say to us about our relationship to the rest of creation? Surely, as becomes increasingly clear, if everything in the universe emerged from this one burst of energy, our connectedness is truly radical.

In her latest book, “Ask the Beasts; Darwin and the God of Love,” Elizabeth Johnson presents a beautiful exposition for our understanding of this phenomenon and of its implications for our lives.

The ants and the elephants, the trees and the mountains, the first person stepping off the Mayflower and the latest undocumented immigrant: we are all intrinsically part of one another.

Maybe we can imitate the ants a little better. Maybe we can, at least in our hearts and our attitudes, internalize care and concern for every one of those who are so much a part of us.

Amen! May it be so!

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Sister Carol Nolan

Sister Carol Nolan recently retired from ministering at Providence in the Desert in Coachella, California, a ministry she founded in 2002. She currently lives and volunteers at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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1 Comment

  1. Marsha Speth on September 24, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Thank you, Carol! This is a beautiful reflection and reminder!

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