So, anyone who states that they have nothing more to learn is either lying, or unfortunately, a fool. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you find yourself in – there is always another fact, another story, another perspective, even another piece of truth that is waiting to pass through your ears, and in front of your eyes, even sometimes across the taste buds of your tongue to bring you different and more knowledge that you had when you woke up this morning. We are offered a fascinating promise by God, so long as we open our eyes, and sometimes close our mouths, and observe and listen to truth and knowledge all around us.
Hence, the hoverfly. We have slipped past the first threat of freezing and frost here in the Dakotas this fall, and the days have become delightfully pleasant, with highs even in the upper 70s and into the 80s. It truly is our second shorter shot of summer before the leaves all fall and we put on our winter whites. Yesterday afternoon, I encouraged Cheri to consider the work of the day completed, and that we ought to just go outside on our beautiful back patio, and enjoy the late afternoon. There was a little breeze, the sun was out of our eyes, and it was just nice to take some time, and be wonderfully idle.
That is, until that darned bee started buzzing around our heads! Now, it’s not that I hate bees – although I do have a profound dislike for their cousins, the wasps and hornet. Those stinkers will sting just because they feel like it, and I have more than one point in my history when either I, or someone I loved, ended up crying and thrashing over a dumb hornet sting. But like I said, bees are fine, and the only time I was stung by a bee – a bumblebee, to be exact – is when I was about 4 years old, and I went with my two big brothers across the street to a hedge full of flowers and full of bumblebees. For some reason that I do not understand to this day, we each had taken a jar, and a lid, and were planning to catch the bees. This of course goes into the category of dumb things little boys do. I don’t know what we were going to do with them, even if we were able to catch them, but that piece of the plan was yet to unfold.
The idea was to scoop the bumble into the jar, and then put the lid on. Let me say this is not quite in the skill set for a 4-year-old. I tried and tried, but I think I just managed to irritate the bees. Finally, I did knock one off the flower I was aiming at, and it ended up falling to the ground, where my exposed toes happened to be, and as is the case, the perfect storm hit, and the bumblebee stung my cute little toes. You know you are alive when you get stung by any insect, including a bumble. The hot painful feeling of a bite that won’t let go went all through my foot, and I dropped the jar, dropped the plan, and ran home across the street to be tended to by a wonderful mother. I really haven’t tried to catch bees since then – my plan is always to leave them on their own, and hope they will return the favor.
Except, on a beautiful autumn day, as we sat drinking some apple cider on the patio, suddenly, the bee decided to mess with us. How rude! Over and over again, we swatted at the thing, even a few times making contact, as we gave it the idea that this was not the appropriate time for shooting a Wild Kingdom episode. Still, the darned bee kept coming back and back. I didn’t know if it were just looking for the best place to sting me (I hid my toes), or if perhaps it was many-generations descendant of the first bee who decided to attack my feet. In any case, I was not interested in playing that game!
I was almost ready to go get a swatter – I guess it would be a bee swatter – when our oldest son, Aaron, who had come out to sit with us, told me to settle down. Now, I believe it’s the father’s job to tell the son to settle down, and not the other way around, and so I took a bit of offense, and explained that the bee was not swarming around him, but was looking to take a shot at my exposed skin!
At that moment, my PhD – earned son showed off his smarty-pants knowledge. “It’s not going to sting you,” he said, “because it’s not a bee.” I told him he was nuts. He said, “No – it’s a hoverfly.” Again, I provided him with my diagnosis of his psychological nuttiness. He went on to give a short lecture on the hoverfly, that they look and act like bees, and even go after pollen in flowers, and nectar, but they were harmless and had no capacity to sting, and really like to eat aphids, so they were the exact opposite of the bullying hornets. He said that probably the reason it was circling my head was that my breath smelled like sweet apple juice, and it had located my glass with juice in it.
Now – you have to know that Aaron is also very good at making things up – he once had Cheri almost convinced that the workers around a certain garden we drove by actually had painted the flowers planted there. He’s good, and this one sounded pretty good. While I suggested once more that he was crazy, Cheri did some fact-checking on her phone – and indeed, she found the information about hoverflies! They are flies, since they have only one set of wings, instead of two, like bees (not that I wanted to get that close!), and although they look and act like bees, they were actually nice little guys after all.
So, even in quarantine, I went to school yesterday, and learned a bit about the world in my backyard. I now know the ways of the hoverfly, and will probably not take juice outside again – I know it’s a fly, but it still sure looks like a bee!
You may have known all of that, and are right now reading this, and saying to yourself, “Why – how could he live for 63 years and not have heard about a hoverfly?” That’s the other thing about knowledge: when you have it, you can always take the delicious stance of wondering why those around you don’t already know what you know. Of course, when you don’t have it, the first thing you have to take is a nice drink of humility, and to realize that whatever knowledge is coming your way is simply another opportunity to unwrap another part of your life and your world.
I wonder what else I am going to learn about before my time on earth is over. Part of knowledge is intentional, when we place ourselves under the discipline of uncovering a set of facts and such, but the other part – in this sense, the exciting part – comes in pure discovery, almost when we “accidentally” (a good accident in this case) come to know something that had been in front of us all along, but that we just didn’t know about until the right time.
Imagine what we are going to discover about heaven? Imagine, when all the “I wonders” about our eternal home become, “I never dreamed…” and oh, the joy that floods our souls.
Yesterday, it was the hoverfly – who knows what’s waiting for me – for us – as this day unfolds?
Word of the Day: adimpleate. The word is pronounced a-DIMP-leet. Of course, it’s Latin again, and the word in its finished form means “to fill up.” “Be sure to adimpleate the tank when you stop!” To break down the Latin, you find ad-impleo, which is “I fill up to”. When we take the implore, it become im, or in – plerus. The Latin plerus, means “most or all.” So, I put most or all of whatever I am using to fill up to the brim what I am filling.
This would be a good verb to save and use at Thanksgiving: “Has everyone adimpleated yet?” That’ll create some conversation…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.