Safely back from Italy - and with apologies for such a long gap between blogs - let me explain the title of this entry:

We were staying in an old farmhouse in northern Tuscany, with a lovely view of steeply wooded hills and bare mountains behind. The pool was warm, the food was delicious, the company (my family) tolerable (don't worry, they won't read this) - the only problem was the constant attack of tiny but highly voracious mosquitoes. The locals were bemused, as they don't normally have this problem. And, while scratching away, we wondered, "What exactly is the point of mosquitoes?" Or, to put it a bit more theologically, "What place can we possibly find for mosquitoes within God's good Creation?"

Well ... if you google "benefits of mosquitoes", you'll discover that they - and particularly their larvae - perform a number of extremely useful functions within the ecosystem. In other words, they do have a purpose and a point. It's just that their impact on us is decidedly unpleasant - and, where malaria is still rife, dangerous.

To look at it another way: the ecosystem and all that is in it do not exist purely for our benefit. Or rather, they exist for our ultimate benefit, but not necessarily for our immediate pleasure or safety.

Also - while we were there we heard wolves, re-introduced into Tuscany fairly recently; and we spoke to a local woman who keeps sheep, and has mysteriously lost some of her flock. Shepherds are alarmed at the spread of these predators, and arguments rage about the pros and cons of re-wilding. The unseen presence of these remarkable creatures is, for me, another reminder that we are not "in charge" of creation, not in control of it, but part of an extraordinarily complex web of life.

When we will stop deluding ourselves that we have dominion over nature, and learn the wisdom of living in harmony with all creatures?