From pesky flies, O Lord, deliver us
It’s been an interesting few days here at Our Lady of Solitude with our 2 wild westies. Last Friday morning ended up being a bit traumatic as Fergus awoke from sleep screaming in pain. Ends up, we think he strained a muscle. (side note: he is back to 100% today).
But on Saturday night, Ferg was still on the slow road to recovery. I slept lightly – as I was listening for him, hoping he wasn’t going to wake me up again with his cries. Sure enough, about 11 p.m., the crying began. But it was different. It was more like piercing moans. I quickly scurried down to the room where the dogs sleep. Come to find out, Fergus was fast asleep, but now it was Percy.
Yes, Percy was all aflutter, crying, staring up at the ceiling, turning his head with short, sharp movements. Trying to assess the situation with my sleepy mind, I couldn’t find any pain points…but he was very restless. Then I saw it. Yes, “it”! The cause of his moaning and the source of the problem: A fly. No, I’m not kidding. He was irritated, I mean really put out by this fly. I thought to myself, “Surely, that can’t be the problem.”
But as it flew from here to there, he watched it with a hawk’s eye. And then it landed on his face. Oh, the horror! As I stood there, all sorts of things ran through my mind, but the remaining impression was: “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I soon became Percy’s hero, though, as I said goodbye to Br. Fly.
I tried to explain to Percy (yes, I try to reason with the dogs, but it never really works!) that we live near dairy farm and flies are just part of life here. And that he better get used to them. I told him that they annoy me too, but that we can’t wake up the whole house when one happens to get into our room. But, to be honest, Percy didn’t really care. He jubilantly and quickly returned to his bed, tail wagging, happy that he could sleep in fly-less peace.
So I went back to bed too, thinking: “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
Next morning, I woke up with the same thought: “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Did the dog really wake me up so that I would come and kill a fly.”
Then some light broke into my thought process, as suddenly I could relate to Percy! I realized, on a natural level *and a supernatural level* I do the same thing. When a fly – whether it’s the fly of distraction, the fly of temptation, the fly of discomfort, the fly of irritation, or a real live pesky fly – comes into my realm, I have one thought: the fly, the fly, the fly! It lands on me and, with much agitation, I swat at it. I begin to stalk it mercilessly. Kill the fly. Kill the fly. Kill the fly. Any notion of purification, reparation, or loving surrender is thrown out the window. Kill the fly. Kill the fly. Kill the fly. I watch “it”. I observe “it”. I can’t rest as long as “it” is bothering me.
Sometimes there are scorpions and snakes, but mostly life’s journey is just wrought with flies, huh? Sometimes little flies, other times horse flies. But always flies, flies, flies. Like Percy, sometimes we try to kill the flies with a quick snap of the old teeth, but alas – unless we are the Karate Kid – killing a fly isn’t always so easy.
And then, like poor desperate (and slightly neurotic) Percy, at last we cry out. Perhaps our cry is not so different from the piercing moan that came trembling out of our little white fur ball.
“I can’t do this alone! Father, come to my aid.” Come kill this fly of temptation, this fly of distraction, this fly of discomfort!”
And we realize, in the midst of the frenzy, that in our mad pursuit of the fly, we forgot our Father! Ah, then we can experience the full force of our helplessness and the full force of the Father’s loving care. It is a care that is attentive both to great and small – snakes and flies, intense sufferings and little pin pricks.
Unlike my reaction to Percy, the Lord does not say: “You’ve gotta be kidding me. Did you really wake me up to kill a fly?” For our Father never sleeps, nor is He ever far from us. He is ever utterly near. He is ever utterly caring. He is ever utterly protecting. He is waiting for us to say: “My Father, I can’t handle this alone, even this little thing…I can’t seem to do this without Your help, Your strength, Your grace.” He permits the flies, and through them, He allows us to both experience our weakness and our need for Him. And, when we realize His Love, well…He becomes our Hero. But more than a hero, He becomes our Savior.
(As a footnote: even St. Francis was not a huge fan of flies. He once said that the fly was idle and ate the fruit of other creatures’ labor! Perhaps, here in fly-laden Tonopah, we ought to invoke his intercession! Smile, smile)