9. The Praying Mantis
On pages 88-89 of chapter 9, "Synchronicity and the
Nature of Reality," is a story involving an amazing chain of coincidences with a praying mantis.
The mantis was worshipped by African bushmen and symbolically represented for them prayer,
watchfulness, and the hunt for meaning in their lives. The following note was sent by a
lady after reading the pages listed above:
"During my year
of self-discovery in finally allowing myself to touch the center of my sorrow and therefore my soul,
in allowing myself to be opened by life's betrayals and no longer closed in fear of further pain! I
learned to sit with my pain, to meditate and touch God's healing power within me. I searched for the
true meaning of my life, my pain, my joy. During this time a praying mantis found its way into the
house. The first time, my daughter discovered it. It freaked her out. She had never seen a
praying mantis and had no idea what it was. Her stepfather and I both came to the rescue as she
screamed hysterically upon her encounter. We safely put the insect outside. I later encountered
the insect again one morning near my reading chair. Again, I put the mantis outside in its rightful
habitat. The praying mantis continued to dwell in my garden just outside my front door. I would
see him often as I would go to and from and marvel at him. I have since come to find out that
the praying mantis has had significant meaning for others."
This E-mail was sent from another reader:
"I was reminded last night as I read through chapters
8, 9, and 10 of your book for the second time about an interesting synchronicity associated with
my reading of the book.
One night last week as I read through those chapters
for the first time, I was struck by your reference to Laurens Van der Post's tale of the relationship
between the bushman and the praying mantis. What tweaked my interest the most was that I had also
quoted Van der Post on my web site. From what little I've read of his writing. I very much appreciate
the depth of his expression.
Yesterday morning, I went to the store bright and
early and the car was low on gas so I pulled up to the pump. Before I'd even opened the car door, I
noticed from the window that a praying mantis was perched atop the space of metal just above the
pump handle. It threw me. I've held them before and marveled at how fragile they are. But I also
noted the memory of your having cited Van der Post and the praying mantis.
What hadn't stuck in my mind from the first reading
was the significance that the bushman had given to the praying mantis. When I read that part of your
book again last night, I thought this little story might be something you would enjoy. I probably
spy a praying mantis once in an incalculable number of years so it was an especially pleasing gift
for this one to appear when and where it did. The smell of gasoline was strong and that fragile
insect appeared so out of place. I watched as it slithered by so as not to disturb it and it turned
its head as I passed by, seeming to follow my intentions. For some reason, I couldn't get the
electronic keyboard of the pump to work so I got back into the car and drove away without any
The thought of that praying mantis stayed with me
from time to time until I finally stopped at a different station a few hours later and filled the
tank. It wasn't until I started reading again last night that I thought of it again.
I love the symbolism. It's beautiful. It's as
though we pass through moments without a conscious distinction of time, although that's a state of
being very difficult to express, perhaps because it requires time to express it?"