They are arachnids, in the same family of bugs as ticks and spiders. About 0.01 inch in length, you can’t see them with the naked eye. If you could, you’d probably never go to bed. That’s because the typical mattress is home to between 100,000 and 10 million of them. If you haven’t bought a new pillow in a while, you might also like to know that about 10 percent of the weight of a 2-year-old pillow is composed of dead mites.*
And you thought that itchy feeling you get in bed every night was due to the cheap laundry detergent you bought on sale.
The good news is that dust mites don’t harm most people. They’re worse to think about than they are to cope with. Chances are you don’t even notice them.
But dust mites are a good reminder that there’s a whole lot happening in this world that we can’t see. Things are going on behind the scenes and beneath the surface that we are oblivious to.
Take pain, for example. Most of the people you meet on a given day will be hurting over some failure, problem, or disappointment. The smiling server who takes your order in the restaurant could be aching on the inside over a troubled marriage. The mailman who gives a hearty wave as he walks by your house could be worried sick about some impending biopsy results. Or even the preacher who always seems so upbeat could be feeling like a failure and fighting the temptation to quit.
Psalm 90:10 says, “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble.”
Here’s a suggestion. Every day, wherever you go, just assume that the people you meet are experiencing pain and trouble. Don’t be fooled by the smiles and cheerful remarks. Assume that somewhere in every person’s life there is a point of pain or fear. And treat them accordingly. Be courteous. Be patient. Be helpful. Be generous. Seize your opportunity to be a ray of sunshine in what could well be a surprisingly dark and cloudy life.
For further reflection read John 16:33 and Galatians 6:2.
*Don Voorhees, Disgusting Things: A Miscellany (New York: Perigee, 2008), 55