The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.
The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer’s day?
“The bee is not afraid of me” by Emily Dickinson
“Summer” composed by Joe Hisaishi
I woke up at 5:30 that morning of my first day in India. I had a solid 15 hours of jet-lagged sleep and was ready for this new day. My hosts Bruce and Anne Johanson had told me they enjoy sipping tea on the balcony in the early morning hours, and when I slipped out onto our shared balcony, I found them already there.
The following had its origins in a homily I offered at the 8:30 a.m. Liturgical Service at La Sierra University Church in June. One of the Scripture passages for the day was the well-known Galatians 5:1, 13-28, Paul’s declaration of freedom in Christ, followed by his list of fleshly vices and fruits of the Spirit. While at first thought I would opt for one of the other passages that week, as this one is so well worn, some further reading and reflection drew me in.
Today there was one more brutal killing. It was in the name of terror, or perhaps hatred, or maybe racism. It was a conspiracy or perhaps a lone-wolf gunman. It happened here, or over there. For one reason or another, it was reported on by the news, while similar events were overlooked. Welcome to one more day in our brutal, broken, vengeance-soaked world.
Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies’ soft blue,
And a belt where the rivers run.
And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air’s soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.
I envy the farmer’s boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.
In 1986, while organizing some office space at Loma Linda University, I unearthed a stack of small yellow books that had been bulk purchased by Dr. Harvey Elder, a spiritual wayfarer who happened also to be an infectious disease specialist. The discovery of the book, “A Way of Life: Living in Day Tight Compartments,” would be one of the nodal points of my kingdom pilgrimage. I read it annually. Deliberately, I chose to review it in the early morning hours prior to going to the hospital for the scheduled delivery of each of my three children.