Someone on Facebook posted a clip about a woman who’d found an injured bee and decided to take care of it. In return for her kindness, the creature responded with a trust near to affection. This cross-species communication opened the woman to a new perspective on life. (Click) Some might have said she’d been given a revelation.
Her experience reminded me of a similar one I had in college. Studying late at night, with only a gooseneck lamp for light, I was well into an essay on existentialism, when a spider, only slightly larger than a bread crumb, appeared at the top of the book’s page. Small as it was, I could see a pair of black eyes peering up at me and noted how the insect’s pincers snapped open and shut several times as if it were attempting to engage me. I am not partial to spiders, but the insect, being so small, made me laugh. “What a brave fellow you are,” I said as I pointed my newly sharpened pencil in its direction. To my amazement, the creature managed to clasp the point and held on for a moment. When I lowered the pencil a second time, the spider held its ground and engaged again, not twice but each time I lowered the point. I hardly knew what to make of such determination, not to mention courage.
My imagination bubbled. Was this an enchanted prince, perhaps, anxious to communicate? Or was it a desperate mother with a hundred spiderlings to feed at home?
As I had no way to satisfy my curiosity, and with Nietzsche being a stern taskmaster, eventually, I opened my window and shifted my visitor on to a rose-leaf, where I assumed it would be happier. The experience was one I never forgot, however, as it elevated my regard for all manner of life.
We, humans, tend to be a dull lot, sticking to what we know or hovering near our comfort zones. Yet, every day, nature invites us to see that harmony is the miraculous consequence of variety. The woman with her bee and I with my spider were invited into a Zen moment, one which didn’t require us to climb a mountain or set off to sea in a tea-cup. All we needed to do was experience. Each time I remember a bee or a spider or a tree, though different from me, isn’t my enemy, I grow wiser.
How unfortunate we are to live in an era when walls are more cherished than bridges. But it won’t last. Walls create empty spaces and Nature abhors a vacuum. It wants inclusion with no room for hatred. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. That wants it down.” (Robert Frosts’ Mending Wall)
(Originally posted 5/23/18)