Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of Sunflowers and Ants

When in the gardens, I plop onto to the ground, dig my hands into whatever project I’m working on and just lose myself; it’s Mother Earth and me. Last week was no exception as I cleared another area for planting. I was engaged with Mother and anxious to see how this space would unfold into a new garden spot.

Sitting on the ground, even on top of a little rug, I attempt to be aware of any unpleasant insects which might encroach into my space. This particular day, being lost in my project, it wasn’t until a troop of little ants were biting the inside of my thigh that I became aware of the ant hole I had exposed. Most of my left leg is skin grafted and doesn’t have any external feeling, no sensation to touch. Unable to feel them, I looked down to find this leg covered in hundreds of marching little ants. My leg, the rug, under my bum, I was encircled by an army of ants, hundreds and hundreds of ants. What made this worse was I couldn’t jump up and stomp on them, I had to scoot through them to get away.
This distressing moment from last week came back around today while I was out watering the wild flower garden. Being late in the season many of the wild flowers are beginning to fade, most have finished blooming and are about to go to seed. The wild sunflowers, though, haven’t yet opened. The stocks are up with bulging buds, but nothing has yet popped. At a closer look, I noticed them quivering. This movement is something I have witnessed before.
The summer prior to my accident my kids and I planted a sunflower patch. The large sunflowers became a haven for sparrows and bees. One hot summery Las Vegas day, I looked out the kitchen window and noticed every one of those sunflower plants quivering. Even though they weren’t dancing as if a breeze had blown past, I wondered if that caused the odd motion.
Curiosity sent me outside to see what was making the tall, stocky sunflowers move in such a way. I was astonished to find every stock, leaf, and flower covered in ants; marching in their own uniform, freaky rhythmic way up and down all around our beautiful sunflowers.
Later that evening, as I was rinsing the dinner dishes, I looked out at the sunflowers. They were still quivering from the invaders march, yet each flower’s head managed to tilt towards the western sky to face the setting sun. Undeterred, they continued to do what Nature, Mother Earth, God, what their Great Creator called them to do, simply follow the sun. The sunflowers in my yard today, once they pop open, undoubtedly, even amidst the adversity of a massive army ant invasion, will do the same.
So this leads me back to the reminder of my own ant invasion last week and the thought that there is something I am to gain from this experience, something deeper than ‘don’t unearth an ant hole,’ or ‘what a troop of ant bites feels like on ones thigh,’ yes something deeper than pure irritation. With this thought, I opened myself up, allowing my mind to venture where it needed. Shortly, a long forgotten book I had read right after returning home from the hospital came to mind. I dug it out, skimmed through it, and found the following excerpt. It’s from When God Weeps written by Joni Eareckson Tada & Steven Estes. Here the writer is speaking of a friend who has a debilitating disease:
“His bed stands in the center of the living room…Nighttime is no longer friendly…Breathing is heavy labor. Calling out is impossible…In the darkness an ant finds him. The scout sends for others and they come. First hundreds, then thousands. A noiseless legion inches its way down the chimney, across the floor, secretly crawling up his urine tube, up, over, and onto his bed. They fan out over the hills and valleys of John’s blanket, tunneling under and onto his body. He is covered by a black, wriggling, invasion…His wife found him in the early morning with ants still in his hair, mouth, and eyes.”
Even in my loss of ability to jump up and stomp, I found a new depth of gratitude in my ability to scoot my way through and away from the ants. Following this sense of gratitude I felt (and this isn’t the first time) that God can be so unkind. This feeling reminded me, once again, that suffering, adversity, loss, heart ache, all which seems as if it shouldn’t be, is all a part of the Great Creator’s plan, a part of an infinite God’s love. Why? Why did this particular man, John, who not only couldn’t scoot through and away from an ant invasion but couldn’t cry out for help either, have this horrid experience?
In a later chapter the authors write:
“People may not be noticing John, but the spiritual world is…God’s angels actually get emotionally charged up when people chose to trust in God…God gets glory every time the spirit world learns how powerful His everlasting arms are in upholding the weak. They learn it is God who permeates every fiber of John’s being with perseverance…”
The authors also refer to Ephesians 3:10, but I want to reference parts of 10-12:
“His intent was that…the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose…In Christ and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
I recall John’s story from when I read the book years ago. I noticed John then and I notice John now. His ‘story’, I’m sure, is much greater than this one event; however, this one event has made a profound impact upon me. What else is profound is the perspective of the spiritual world noticing and learning not just from John’s story but yours and mine.
I believe in and speak of angels as well as loved ones who have crossed over; there must be a whole host of dwellers in the heavenly realms. Are they doing more than watching over me? Are they noticing and learning from me? If so, am I an example of divine perseverance? Am I someone of whom they can learn from? Do I truly know what it is to be spiritually free and confident? If so, then when I say I am a child of the Universe, a daughter of God, I would take it beyond mere words. There’d be realization that I am child, a daughter thus a goddess all be it lower case ‘g’. Could it be time for her to confidently emerge?
This brings to me a greater sense of responsibility here, in the earthly realm. I know many individuals notice me, but, again, am I an example of divine perseverance. Does my Great Creator, my God permeate every fiber of my being? And if so, is it evident within me? What about all of Mother Earth’s inhabitants? Do they too notice me? Is it possible for the quivering sunflowers to notice I have learned from them? Even the cruel legion of ants which invaded John; is it possible they realize the roll they played in the profound impact of John’s story?  If so, is glory given; does Mother rejoice?
 When an army of ants invade, literally or figuratively, I have the choice to wallow in humanness or impart divine perseverance. On this, my 49th year journey, may I always choose the latter, may I also, even in the midst of an invasion, be like the sunflowers and do what I have been called to do, simply follow the Son. It is time, freely and confidently, to emerge into the child, daughter, goddess my Great Creator, my God has created me to be, trusting, even if no one notices, that I will fulfill my place, be it ever so small, in this vast Universe.

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