In 1854 the pioneers were still new to the Salt Lake valley. They were struggling to grow food in an unfamiliar desert climate with limited resources. The possibility of starvation loomed large. That was when the crickets came in swarms to destroy the crops. The pioneers were in despair when seagulls came in great flocks and devoured the crickets to save the crops. It is a story that is part of the mythology of my people. When it is told in church, the arrival of the gulls is evidence of God’s miracles. I wanted to reference this event in a story I’m writing, so I delved into some first hand sources to see how accurate the commonly told version is. There were swarms on multiple occasions in the early years of settlements in the valley, sometimes crickets, sometimes grasshoppers. There is no doubt that the intervention of gulls helped save crops though perhaps not so dramatically as the retellings say. However the tidbit that fascinated me most was a small notation that for the indigenous peoples of this region it would have been the swarm of crickets that was considered a divine bounty. Insects are packages of protein for people who are willing to eat them. Upon reading that, it amused me to think that God noticed his people struggling, so he sent them crickets, but they weren’t able to comprehend crickets as their mode of salvation, so then God had to send a secondary miracle in the form of Gulls. This is not how I think God actually intervenes, yet the train of thought gives me pause. What if the things we view as the hardships in our lives are the very miracles we need, but it requires us to transform in order to benefit from the miracle?
I’m going to be sitting with this thought and examining its implications relating to the pandemic, system racism, and some personal challenges in my life.