All our lives we are told by parents, teachers, scientists and preachers that every living thing exists on earth for a purpose.  We know trees grow to give us shade in the summer, timber for houses, pulp for paper products, and a bathroom facility for dogs.  We know that birds are here to produce melodic singing for our listening pleasure and to justify the paper towels and the bottle of Windex my Uncle Joe keeps in the drink holder of his Buick to clean off any of the residue deposited by these winged songsters. 

Yes, everything on God’s green earth has a reason to exist, but what on earth was He thinking when he created the tick?

Anyone who has ever attended Sunday school class knows that in Genesis, the Bible reads:  ‘And God created the heavens and the earth, and it was good.’  But where, I ask, where does it say:  ‘And last, but not least, God decided that something was missing, so he created ticks and it was good.’  Whether you are Christian or not, we can all agree that ticks are far from good.  So why are they here at all?

First of all, what the heck is a tick?  Well, Webster’s dictionary defines “tick” as ‘any of the numerous bloodsucking arachnids of the family Ixodidae within the order Acarina, many of which transmit infectious diseases.’ Now there’s a pleasant description if I ever heard one.  Another definition read:  ‘Any of various, usually wingless, louse like insects of the family Hippobosciddae that are parasitic on animals such as sheep and goats.’ Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to read further.

I don’t know about you, but anything that is described with such adjectives as bloodsucking, infectious, louse like, and parasitic is not something I really care to have crawling over my sock, up the back of my leg and attaching itself to areas of my body that haven’t seen the sun in years.

Everyone knows that when you move into a Southern town, one of the first questions put to you is:  “Who are your people?”  Now if you answer by saying:  “Oh, I come from the family of Ixodidae,” or, “My great-grandmother was one of those Hippobosciddaes that settle in the Shenandoah Valley,” don’t expect to be asked to join the Lions Club or the Junior League.  No one in these parts would think too highly of any bloodsucking, infectious, louse like, and parasitic newcomer coming in and attaching himself or herself to any of the town’s civic organizations, much less, the mayor’s ankle, leg, or thigh.

Webster’s dictionary really doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of the tick, but aren’t we told to love and appreciate all of God’s creatures?  Yes, a tick does attach itself to your skin with long fangs and suck your blood, but so did Tom Cruise in the movie “Interview with a Vampire”.  Now, ladies, are you really going to pull Tom Cruise off your neck with a pair of tweezers and flush him down the toilet?  I didn’t think so.

These itty bitty creatures aren’t as cuddly as a cute kitty or as precious as a peppy pup, but where are the animal rights activists defending the proper treatment of ticks?  Why aren’t there any marches on Washington by millions carrying signs that read:  “Save the Ticks!” and “Ticks are People Too!”?  We all know that ticks do suffer.  They are tweaked by tweezers, tossed in toilets, smothered in tissues, and scorched by cigarettes.  And everybody knows somebody who keeps a jar of alcohol on a side table where ticks are deposited to create an eerie suspension of death.  I guess until someone shows up at a Republican Convention wearing a stole made from the skins of ticks and some activist throws red paint on it, you probably won’t be asked to sign too many petitions demanding the fair treatment of ticks.

Now don’t get the idea I’m going to run out and put a bumper sticker on my car that reads:  “Have You Hugged Your Tick Today?”  Basically, these crawling nuisances are nothing more than bloodsucking, infectious, louse like parasites.  So why do they exist?  Perhaps we need to look not at the tick itself, but rather at what they create.  And what is that?  It’s quality time.  Seriously. 

When the kids come in for their evening baths after playing on the swing set or catching salamanders at the creek, it’s time to check for ticks.  We then proceed to check their heads—examining each strand of hair and every square inch of their scalps.  As we begin conjuring up scenes of a chimpanzee family on a National Geographic special, take a moment to admire what is actually going on here.  We’re spending some quality time with loved ones.  

So, if it weren’t for ticks, we just might get so wrapped up in daily summer activities that we’d end up neglecting each other and miss out on some very important familial togetherness.  So, let’s try to slow down this summer and enjoy all of God’s creations—even the bloodsucking, infectious, louse-like, parasitic ones.  While the weather is warm, take time to stop and smell the roses and pick a few ticks off the dog.

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