No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. –Hebrews 12:11
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:11-14
Happy Friday, all! Two weeks from today we celebrate arguably the most shocking miracle in the history of history: God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord, took on flesh to dwell with us. Unprecedented. Shocking. Awe-inspiring. Vastly under-appreciated by the faithful. God with us? Yup. Amazing!
Well, we are back in Shawshank mode again, on steroids. Yesterday we got another text that there was another positive case at the nursing home which puts us at least a month away from seeing mom. We got a 5 day period to visit without hindrance when they expected that mom was at her last days, and we visited 24/7. We sang. We prayed. We talked. We lived life with her, just as if she was fine. And then God did an interesting, if miraculous thing…He granted her/us more time.
(Quick Theology note here: Please don’t mistake this for me or my family taking credit for her “recovery” as that is far(!!) above our pay grade…but God uses means. He uses people (doctors, scientists, etc…), typically but not limited to, willing people. He uses natural things, history, and a million other mysteries…to accomplish His perfect Plan. I expect ( and I can be wrong) that very seldom does He essentially speak/poof something into existence. He can, mind you. He spoke and the heavens and Earth were formed. For 6000+ years the only real doubt about the timeframe He used to do so was centered around why it took so LONG in His week of Creation, not that the Earth was old. Spoiler alert: He was modelling several things including working your week and resting in Him on the sabbath.)
So briefly I want to discuss a little smidge of science called mutualism. According to a Junior High School level piece called “Symbiosis: The Art of Living Together“, written by the National Geographic Society, mutualism can be explained thusly using clownfish and sea anemones as an example:
In a mutualistic relationship, both species benefit. Sea anemones live attached to the surface of coral reefs. They trap their prey with stinging cells called nematocysts, which are located on their tentacles. Nematocysts release toxins when a small animal contacts an anemone’s tentacle. This paralyzes the stung animal, allowing the anemone to easily bring the animal into its mouth for ingestion. While other fish succumb to these toxic stings, clownfish secrete a substance in the mucus covering their bodies that suppresses the firing of nematocysts. This allows the clownfish to swim comfortably between the tentacles of anemones, creating a protected environment in which potential predators are killed off by anemone stings. This clearly benefits the clownfish, but how about the sea anemones? The brightly-colored clownfish attract other fish looking for a meal. These unsuspecting would-be predators are then caught and eaten by the anemones.”
My daughter, a super bright and artsy uber-learner, enjoys studying many ecosystems. In fact, she has snails and slugs in her little room habitat aquarium that she treats with the same affection with which I treat my extensive shoe collection. (She loves them…). She brought to my attention this amazing video:
I am just amazed at the different forms of symbiosis as listed in the article above. Mutualism, in particular, amazes me. Not unlike vestigial organs (organs that evolutionists once believed had outlived their usefulness but now backtrack on), it is not always easily apparent how the definition plays out. It isn’t always obvious how one side or the other benefits. Some mistakenly (or maliciously) see some relationships as less mutual and more parasitic. (Oh, the stories I hear where that relationship is the case in caregiving…but that is a story for a different day…) Mutualism is the basis of so many relationships whether we see it or not. Here is a somewhat funny, somewhat transparently embarrassing example:
I recently visited a friend to help her with her computer. She is a senior, as many, if not most, of my friends are, and she has significant vision issues. She needed a new account set up and I was happy to help. One thing you may or may not know about me is I am a terrible typist. Yes…I get it, what a hoot…a near lifetime IT dude who types with about 3-4 fingers!! Get the laughing out of your system. ;)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. You done? (chuckle sound)……………………………………..OK. That all said, my friend was a formerly super fast typist in her professional career…but she didn’t know WHAT to type. Add to the mix that the paint on the keys on her keyboard was worn out. My hunting and pecking style of typing works much better when I can look for that pesky @ or * (even the stinking Z slays me sometimes…). Bonus piece of challenge…she does better with the lights turned waaaaaay low. (Bright light hurts her eyes.) So I am poking around trying to type half of our time together and the other half I was telling the nearly blind user what to type. It was amusing if humbling and reminded me of a 2-person horse outfit with 2 bottom halves sewn end-to-end. 🙂 But we had a great time and, together, we accomplished the goal.
From the surface it may seem like in a nursing home, especially in the comfort/end-of-life room, the primary person “benefiting” from the relationship could be the ill loved one. They do benefit greatly, but I suggest to you that the visitor gets much more from the experience. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and my 40-50 hours I spent with mom over the weekend afforded me the opportunity to “tell her” all sorts of things that I should have told her before. Nothing Earth-shattering, but it was a sweet time of fellowship. I watched for every grin carefully. I felt for every squeeze of the hand when a piano song came on my Spotify playlist that I knew she would like…and I was blessed. Did God cure her that weekend? Nope. He did, however, give me and my siblings all sorts of wonderful time with her, as it turns out preceding a new COVID case and lockdown, and we are mutually blessed in the process. There are all sorts of scenarios in life where one side may benefit more than others, but the key is to worry more about the needs of others than ourselves. If we can do that, we finally understand the love of Christ. I have a long way to go, but last weekend pointed me in the right direction yet again.
Update: So, mom is back in her old room. He vitals are stable. Ox saturation in the mid-upper 90s. BP, heart rate are ok. No more seizures, although the next one probably lurks like the new years’ property tax bill… Every day is a blessing. We are considering all sorts of options to be able to see mom more and I will have some details next week for your consideration. Where there is a will, there is a way…and we are willing.
WW Update: Switching to WW in-person scales (and having to weigh in clothing) was a small setback as was the Thanksgiving cornucopia produced by my beautiful bride…but I had a great week and re-lost some ground that I lad lost. I am just under 100 pounds lost and back in a good place.
A quick note on my bride: I am not sure the benefit I bring to the table in a mutualistic sense in our marriage. She gets a bad deal, but I sure get a good one. I am less a clownfish and more a barnacle? 🙂 I love you Suz. 🙂 Thank you for letting me latch on to and hold on for dear life! 🙂