The other night, I put the backyard flood light on so I could take my new pooch out for a final 'go' before bed. When I came back in, I was amazed by the number of bugs hovering around the light and on the window screens. My first thought was "gross!" and my second thought was, "so why do insects go to the light the way they do?" I figured that I must have learned that at one time along the way, but I couldn't remember. So, being the geek that I am, I had to look it up.
Phototaxis. Phototaxis is the movement of a cell or an organism toward or away from a source of light. If an organism is positively phototactic, it is drawn toward a light source, like a moth. If an organism is negatively phototactic, it is repelled by the light, like a cockroach or a worm. Okay. I like that - phototaxis. But, why are so many bugs positively phototactic? Again, the geek in me had to find out.
A number of sights suggested that bugs use the moon as a navigational tool. One theory is that bugs keep the moon light on one side or the other to keep flying in a straight line, similar to navigating a boat by a stationary point along the shoreline. When the bug sees a flashlight, floodlight, or front porch light, it gets confused and thinks that bright light is the moon. They head toward it thinking they are reaching their destination (although, I am not sure how much actual thinking is involved here) or are still on the correct flight path. When bugs endlessly circle the light, it may be an attempt to keep the "moon" to one side of their body in order to fly a straight path. Poor little guys get mislead and confused, resulting in a failed journey or (sniff sniff) death.
I, like a moth, am positively phototactic. I am drawn to light. On most days, if there is a sunny spot on the floor, from light streaming in through the window, I eventually spend a moment in that place and soak it up - the warmth and the light. And, while I tend to be a night owl as opposed to an early bird, there is something reassuring about the break of dawn...the light of a new day.
I am spiritually positively phototactic, as well. Wow - that was a mouthful! From an early age, I was introduced to and drawn to the Light. Jesus is called (and calls himself) the light of the world. In John 1:5, it says that the light shines in darkness and darkness cannot overcome it (or extinguish it). I am drawn to that light and everything it stands for, desperately wanting to be in the Light.
And yet, there are times when I get distracted by shiny objects. Like a raccoon who gets his little mitts stuck in a jar while trying to pull out a shiny pop tab, I can sometimes get caught by the shimmery lights of something attractive - popularity, money, Facebook time, a TV show that may or may not be good for my mind and heart, the lure of doing nothing at all, a prestigious job, a decadent dessert, being "right", looking good, sounding smart, whatever it may be. It's not that any of those things are necessarily bad on their own: I'd much rather be an enjoyable chic who has a bit of knowledge than an annoying and ignorant hag-lady. I certainly savour a good sweet treat, especially in the company of friends. And, money is a necessary need and something I should deal with wisely. But when those things set me off course of the true Light and keep me from fulfilling the stuff I should be doing in the Light (namely being a benefit to others for the glory of God - in whatever shape or form that may take), I am like a confused bug in the night. When pride, focus on self, or focus on the "stuff" of the world become my guiding system, I am at serious risk for being mislead and failing in my life journey. Even good intentions can lead to destruction when they are not guided with integrity, honesty, and accountability (you know the saying about roads paved with good intentions). And, for me, my human attempts at integrity, honesty, and accountability fall short without the Light to illuminate.
I love the way creation points again and again to the Creator. Phototaxis points to the Creator. I am thankful for my positive phototaxis. I'd rather be like a moth than a cockroach any day. Hopefully, I will keep the right light in focus, however, and not get distracted by a shiny piece of jewelry, or worse yet, a bug zapper!