A winged prayer

A Christian Science perspective.

April Mattson
A dragonfly settles briefly on a rock in April's garden.

I’ve always loved dragonflies with their shimmering wings, colossal eyes, and long stick bodies. They make me want to fly with them, twirling and gliding through the air. When I’m swimming and a dragonfly falls into the water near me, I’ll dip my index finger gently into the water until its little feet catch on. Then we’ll sail to the shore, where I give my passenger a moment to rest before releasing it into some nearby foliage. One time a dragonfly even molted on me, leaving its old shell behind.

You can imagine my delight when I discovered a dragonfly resting on one of the patio stones in my English garden, scissoring its black-webbed wings. I raced pell-mell to my computer to research how to add more of these fascinating creatures to my landscape. When I discovered that dragonflies weren’t sold and that engineering their ideal environment would entail creating another shallower pond, I sighed in disappointment.

But I stopped mid-sigh with a question: Was it silly and selfish to pray about my desire to attract dragonflies? After all, I reasoned, cherishing God’s ideas is valuable. As Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, said in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (p. 1). As I pondered this idea more deeply, I had a revelation: It wasn’t about me! It was about being a good steward to God’s creation. After all, I had a lot to offer: a lovely pond, tall sticks for the dragonflies to land on, and an unlimited supply of mosquitoes for them to eat.

And so I did pray about having the opportunity to host dragonflies in my yard. I cherished the qualities that they express: beauty, joy, love, and gentleness. Every time I saw a dragonfly in my yard – even for a moment as it passed through – I loved it. Sometimes I even told them so out loud. This went on for a month or two, and then I forgot all about dragonflies as other things occupied my thought. Not too long after this, I noticed that the dragonflies were starting to linger in my garden and that there were more of them. Each year more and more came, and I reveled in their beauty and grace. Today, about two years later, the yard is full of dragonflies of all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’ve moved in as if they own the place, and some don’t even startle when I waltz up and admire them. A wonderful side effect is that they’ve reduced my mosquito population.

I’ve prayed about many things in my life, large and small. Every day, I endeavor to pray for myself, the community, and the world. Sometimes, though, I forget to pray about the small things. This was a good reminder that God shows us how to put even the simplest of our desires into practice.

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