The Gospel from Matthew today is a hard read because we may recognize ourselves in it. We may see that like the scribes and Pharisees we tie up heavy burdens for others to carry, but are unwilling to life a finger to help. We judge others harshly, make them the feel the brunt of their struggle and then offer no suggestions or advice to implement change. We take the seats of honour without considering the others in the room with lesser places of respect. We use our rank, our privilege, our power, and our knowledge for our own benefit. We forget to serve, rather than be served. We should be humbled instead of exalted.
I have been tying a heavy burden to my own shoulder lately. I have this rather irrational fear of bees, wasps and other stinging insects. I have been stung a number of times over the years and it hurts but I do not think I am allergic. However, I saw one of those stupid reality shows where a man on a tractor hit a hive and the wasps swarmed him. I will leave out the gory details but I already had an aversion to the creatures so what happened created an immense terror within me. I still have nightmares about that episode as if it had happened to someone I know. If I am outside I can more or less handle the fear but if I am in an enclosed space, I can freak out a bit. You can imagine then what I might have been experiencing these past few days when wasps showed up in my bathroom. My landlord and I went on an hunting expedition and a rather large wasp nest was found in the crawl space on my third floor. Well, I should clarify…I assume it was large. I did not actually see it as you might surmise. I stayed a good bit away as they opened the door to my horror and then closed it, saying there was a nest in there. They did not need a flashlight to find it so clearly it was easily visible. I would rather not know how big it was.
I have not slept very well, knowing these critters were my roommates. This made matters worse as I do not function so well lately when I am sleep-deprived. I learned a lot about these insects by trial and error. Did you know that if you swat at them, they release a pheromone that alerts their clan to come and help them? Yeah….come on down. When I came back into my apartment after pest control took away the hive, several angry ones dive bombed me. I had to leave for awhile. I had another sleepless night before deciding that I need to sleep somewhere else tonight. I think most of the remaining ones are dead now. I called on a good friend who came over today and walked around. She works with stinging winged creatures so she knows them well. She picked up most of the dead carcasses. She also left me a bee jacket and a trap which at this point is empty. That is a good sign I figure.
My friend did not judge my irrational fear. She empowered me to go upstairs with her, get what I needed and later return to do a couple of loads of laundry. She knows people have fears of bees, wasps and hornets, and was calm as a cucumber as she went around killing the dying ones, putting them out of their misery. She looked around and made a couple of suggestions. I am grateful that she cleared her schedule and came right away. She has a place of honour in my heart for not judging me.
What irrational fears keep you awake at night?
Who has a place of honour in your heart?
Untie the burdens I place on myself and others, God. Let them slip to the floor easily. Send me who I need to stand in the hard places of fear and doubt until by your grace I am transformed. Amen.