…And I think They know my strength, Can gauge The danger of their work: One blow could crush them And their nest; and I am not their friend.
And yet they seem Too deeply and too fiercely occupied To bother to attend. Perhaps they sense I’ll never deal the blow, For, though I am not in nor of them, Still I think I know What it is like to live In an alien and gigantic universe, a stranger, Building the fragile citadels of love On the edge of danger. ~James Rosenberg from “The Wasps’ Nest”
It hangs undisturbed from the eastern eave of the old milk shed, away from view from the house but its busy citizens visit our picnics, greedily buzz our compost bin, shoot bullet-like out of the garbage can when I lift the lid. This nest is their nighttime respite for a few more months before a freeze renders the them to slow motion. Winter hibernation will be a tenuous business for this paper home, as it faces battering from northeasters, likely to be soaked, torn and shredded in the harsh winds.
Yet for now, their fierce hold to security will remain undisturbed. Let the winter deal the blow.
As I am not in or of them, I cannot cast the first stone.
Still I think I know what it is like to be hanging there waiting.
Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp’s nest. ~Pope Paul VI
True worship can only take place when we agree to God sitting not only on His throne in the center of the universe, but on the throne that stands in the center of our heart. ~Robert Colman
Last night we had the joy of worship on the hill on our farm for a summer evening of Wiser Lake Chapel‘s outdoor church. Together we came from far and wide: from Japan and Myanmar to South Dakota and Colorado– sixty five people ranging from a 5 week old premie baby making her church debut to a 93 years young woman who treasures each and every chance to worship with her church family.
Our hearts cannot be empty and longing when God sits at the center of Who we are.
Before the throne of God above; before the throne of God within. Our hearts are full indeed.
Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve. ~Paul Tripp
Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn’t room for any other thought.
~ Sophie Scholl
This time of year I can’t seem to form any other thoughts beyond appreciation for the beauty on each stem and the fragrance that wafts from heliotrope and roses through an open window. I might just fall head-long into the dark center of a flower like Alice into the rabbit hole and not find my way back.
In all the woods that day I was the only living thing fretful, exhausted, or unsure. Giant fir and spruce and cedar trees that had stood their ground three hundred years stretched in sunlight calmly unimpressed by whatever it was that held me hunched and tense above the stream, biting my nails, calculating all my impossibilities. Nor did the water pause to reflect or enter into my considerations. It found its way over and around a crowd of rocks in easy flourishes, in laughing evasions and shifts in direction. Nothing could slow it down for long. It even made a little song out of all the things that got in its way, a music against the hard edges of whatever might interrupt its going. ~John Brehm “Passage”
Nothing seems to please a fly so much as to be taken for a currant; and if it can be baked in a cake and palmed off on the unwary, it dies happy. ~Mark Twain
Returning to clinic after time off for a summer break, I worry I’m like a fly hiding among the black currants hoping to eventually become part of the currant cake. Just maybe no one will notice I don’t quite fit back in.
In thirty three years of practice, even after bearing three children and going through several surgeries, I’ve not been away from patients for more than twenty consecutive days at any one time. This is primarily out of my fear that, even after a few weeks, I will have forgotten all that I’ve ever known and if I were to actually return to see patients again, I would be masquerading as a physician rather than be the real thing. A mere fly among the currants palmed off on the unwary.
Those who spend their professional lives taking care of others also share this concern if they are truly honest: if a patient only knew how much we don’t know and will never know, despite everything we DO know, there would really be no need for us at all, especially in this day and age of accurate (and some terribly inaccurate) medical information at everyone’s fingertips. Who needs a physician when there are so many other options to seek health care advice, even when there are a few flies mixed in?
As I walk back into an exam room to sit with my first patient after my time away, I recall over thirty years of clinical experience has given me an eye and an ear for subtlety of signs and symptoms that no googled website or internet doc-in-the-box can discern. The avoidance of eye contact, the tremble of the lip as they speak, the barely palpable rash, the fullness over an ovary, the slight squeak in a lung base. These are things I am privileged to see and hear and make decisions about together with my patients. This is no masquerade; I am not appearing to be someone I am not. This is what I’m trained to do and have done for thousands of days of my life. No need for the unwary to fear.
The hidden fly in the currant bush of health care may be disguised enough to be part of the cake that an unwary patient might gobble down to their ultimate detriment — but not this doctor. I know I’m the real thing, perhaps a bit on the tart side, but offering up just enough tang to be what is needed.
Sometimes I’d get mad because things didn’t work out well, I’d spoil a flapjack, or slip in the snowfield while getting water, or one time my shovel went sailing down into the gorge, and I’d be so mad I’d want to bite the mountaintops and would come in the shack and kick the cupboard and hurt my toe. But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious. ~Jack Kerouac
The little things can bug us. In fact, like a thistle covered with aphids which entices ants, we can be bugged on top of bugs. Yet we still bloom.
But we are on notice. The bugs do exult in our flawed flesh, a reminder of our vulnerability and short stay on this good earth, bugs and all.
The rest is all glorious, right down to the roots that hold us fast.