The mosquito bites of life


When grace enters, there is no choice - humans must dance. The British poet W.H. Auden wrote those words and, beautiful as they sound, I wish they were true, writes Ron Rolheiser.

When grace enters a room we should begin to dance but, sadly, more often than not we let some little thing, some minor mosquito bite, blind us to grace's presence.

I say this with sympathy, not cynicism. We all know how mosquitoes can ruin a picnic. Here's an example: You are celebrating your birthday in your back yard, having a picnic with family and friends. The weather is perfect, the sun is warm, the mood is mellow, and everything around and within you is an invitation to be joyful and grateful.

This is "Sabbath" in the biblical sense: You are celebrating life, your birthday. You are healthy, surrounded by family and friends who love you, enjoying leisure, time off the wheel of work, all with good food and good drink. Grace has entered and everything is wonderful, except for one thing, mosquitoes.

As dusk begins to take hold they discreetly begin to infiltrate, inflicting a bite here and a bite there until eventually most everyone loses his or her focus and is preoccupied with keeping exposed parts of their flesh under vigilance. Eventually most of the good cheer and the gratitude evaporate and irritation at the mosquitoes effectively ends any inclination to dance. The picnic is brought down by a series of little bites!

We could all recount a hundred kinds of incidences of this sort. Given the complexity and contingency within our everyday lives, mosquitoes of some type are invariably present. There is some rain on every parade, some irritation in virtually every situation in life, and some element challenging pure grace within almost every moment of life.

Life rarely comes to us pure, free from all shadow. That's why former spiritualities said that we are "living in this valley of tears". In our lives we never experience a moment of clear-cut, pure, joy.  Everything comes with a shadow, a mosquito at the picnic.

FULL STORY Mosquito bites (Ron Rolheiser)

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