A spontaneous reaction: hundreds of angry hornets, acting on instinct to protect their nest. But it was the landscape crew that needed protection. They had cut down a dead tree along the walking trail above the driveway and discovered the tree was occupied. As the crew quit the site, I grabbed my phone and called our exterminator.
The next day, the exterminator arrived and said, “The hornets entered the tree through a knothole and hollowed out the tree. Since the tree fell on that knothole, it’s going to be a little tricky killing the hornets. Tell the landscape crew not to cut until I come back next week to make sure the hornets are no longer active.”
I had planned to mulch the trail beside the hornet-infested tree. Instead, I turned to other outside projects, mulching the slope above the driveway and weeding.
“My name is Carole, and I like to weed.” That was my self-introduction at the beginning of a writers’ workshop five years ago. My enjoyment has not waned, especially with regards to stilt grass, spontaneous, invasive, easy to pull.
“Weeding is walking around with my eyes and ears open, my nose and sense of touch, too,” I wrote in that post five years ago. “I observe where plants like to grow—both cultivated and volunteers—whether they are struggling or blooming, and when. Nearby rustling in the woods signals the presence of deer, a squirrel or some other creature. Drama? Fence lizards sun themselves on the rocks of the meadow path then dart onto a tree and disappear, camouflaged on the bark.”
Do you see the false sunflower, peeking out of the field of stilt grass? This week, this week, those invasive grasses will be gone. That’s my intention. Nothing spontaneous about that.
Walking my neighbor’s dogs, Slick and Curly, along the mountain road to the turnaround, as I often do. Since I can only handle two large dogs on leash, Cato runs free, up the slope above the road and down the ravine below. This time in the ravine, he bellowed; he’d found something to chase. Slick and Curly whined their desire to join.
At the top of the hill, Cato reappeared. He ran across the road in front of our neighbor’s house and barreled down the ravine below the turnaround. Slick and Curly pulled hard at their leashes. I struggled to hold them. After a tug on their training collars and verbal corrections, they settled, and we continued our walk. Cato, having been outfoxed, soon joined us.
Attentive to Slick and Curly, I hadn’t seen what Cato was chasing. But it was indeed a fox, our neighbor told me later, making a beeline to protect itself, like the hornets. In this spontaneous encounter, Cato had, indeed, been outfoxed.
I understand the natural tendency, the spontaneous impulse to protect—I’ve done it myself. But here’s the deal with spontaneity: it’s often selfish. This from Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Prayer:
“When we seem to possess and use our being and natural faculties in a completely autonomous manner, as if our individual ego were the pure source and end of our own acts, then we are in illusion and our acts, however spontaneous they may seem to be, lack spiritual meaning and authenticity.”
And yet, there’s a way to be spontaneous and spiritual. This from Sharla Fritz’s God’s Relentless Love: A Study of Hosea:
“The One who created us in His image and gave Himself up so we could live with Him forever asks us to simply receive His love. When we do that, all of the wonderful spiritual practices and works of service will come spontaneously.”
In Him, we are unselfish and spontaneous in protecting others, growing, seeking the One who loves us.
Link up with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2022/09/15/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-spontaneous/