Carpenter Ants and Dogwood Blossoms



I’ve been encouraged by a reader to provide updates from time to time about how I “see God’s endless mercies now in these months since Priscilla’s death.”  Here’s my first one.

I was mowing the lawn a couple of days ago when I noticed a string of ants ascending one of the downspout gutters, and another string descending in a parallel column.  “Oh, no!” I thought, “they’re eating my house!”  But after a little online research, I lowered the threat level.  I learned that while these probably were carpenter ants, their main nest was likely somewhere in the ground, and they were just foraging for food, attracted to the decomposing leaves and twigs in the gutter.  A friend had helped me clean this gutter at one point the previous fall, but if the ants could be believed, it had filled up again after that.

So I got out the tall ladder yesterday and cleaned the whole length of the gutter.  This required climbing up and down several times.  I was very encouraged to find that I had the strength and energy to do this.  (I’d told my friend last fall, when I was so weary with exhaustion, “Thanks for coming to help me, because if I’d tried to climb that ladder, it would probably have killed me!”)  The experience showed me that I was making good progress recovering from exhaustion, and that alone would have made it worthwhile.

But there was an added bonus.  I happened to look down from the ladder when I was at one end of the house, above the flowering dogwood Priscilla had planted in one of the front gardens.  The top was covered with blossoms.  From ground level, a blossom is visible only here and there.  But from above, I had a rare glimpse of the tree blooming in all of its splendor.  The heavenly view, as it were.

I wouldn’t have seen this beautiful sight if I hadn’t climbed the ladder.  I wouldn’t have climbed the ladder if the ants hadn’t tipped me off that the gutter was full.  And the gutter wouldn’t have been full at this point if Priscilla hadn’t had her illness, because when we had the time and energy, we always made sure it was emptied out by the end of the fall.  So little silver linings like this are still coming from her illness, many months later.

The blossoms on the top of the dogwood tree.
The blossoms on the top of the dogwood tree.

Author: endlessmercies

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister and served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School. Dr. Smith answers questions about the Bible, particularly those that arise from the use of his study guides, at

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