Cover Up –
This afternoon, on the last half of my walk/run loop I came across a few blue butterflies, gathered on the road. They didn’t fly away as I approached and I thought; “how beautiful.” After a moment, they flew away, revealing a pile of animal excrement. “Yuck!” I thought as I made sure not to step in it.
It was a paradoxical revelation; beauty covering ugliness. Continuing on my way I thought about the truth of the butterflies and the dung. We like attractiveness, excellence, alluring, flashy things that catch our and others’ attention. We like to show off, surround ourselves with gorgeous trinkets for all the world to see and admire.
The problem with this is the ugliness it reveals. When we are motivated to be the envy of our family, friends, neighborhood, community, there is a repulsiveness uncovered. Wisdom teaches us to look for the beauty in others not to crave it to be seen in ourselves. Only then will we truly the whole world be beautiful.
One of the hazards of working on outdoor projects is foreign objects getting stuck in the wrong places. Last night my thumb was hurting and after a closer look I saw there was a big thorn lodged in it from some prickly bushes we are replanting.
I walked into the kitchen, showed Beth and she immediately went to work. She grabbed a needle from her sewing kit, a pair of tweezers, sterilized them both and began attempting to remove the shard from my finger. Unfortunately for me the thorn was deep and liked its new home very much. Beth picked, squeezed, tried to pluck it out but to no avail.
Finally, with a lot of effort on her part, even more squirming on mine, she was able to grasp the thorn with the tweezers. However, because it was embedded so deeply it still couldn’t be extracted and every time she latched onto it, moved it, pain would shoot up my arm, followed by a loud; “OUCH!” “Sorry babe,’ she would reply ‘but I have to get it out.’” “We could just leave it in there.” came my rebuttal. “Then it would get infected.” “Okay.” I said and sighed in resignation. Ten minutes or so later the splinter came out and we both let out an exaggerated; “Whew!”
This morning, as I massaged my still sore thumb, I reflected on the truth that removing things is often painful. Life has a way of placing things inside our minds and emotions that can infect our souls. Bitterness, anger, unfulfilled expectations, despair, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness all lodge themselves within us and, if not extracted, will poison and eventually kill our spirits.
Finding, acknowledging, extracting, these deep, painful and possibly infected places inside of us isn’t easy but wisdom tells us it is the choice between spiritual life or death.