Spirituality for Today – February 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 7

Bees In The Attic

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of attic stairs

One of those onomatopoeic words – BUZZ – took literal shape on a long-passed summer day. My home's typical atmosphere of domestic tranquility noisily was interrupted as I, a young boy at the time, lowered the stairs to the ceiling attic to be greeted by the sound of a swarm of bees. Two of the nasty creatures began to descend into the main house only to be forced back by my rapid release of the rope which slammed the stairs shut. A few hours later, my father placed a bomb-like canister in the attic that spewed a deadly toxin. Late in the afternoon, we gathered at the base of the attic stairs and anxiously opened the way to the bee infested upper space. Silence! The dead bees were gathered and removed; an opening near a ventilation window through which the offending creatures entered was sealed. Peace had been restored.

Over a half century has passed since that incident occurred, yet I wonder if it could have been a more recent example of a timeless metaphor about life. Admittedly, the course of a lifetime meanders through numerous personal and societal changes and developments. The individual would be well served to examine the impact that each turn of the road brings to the spiritual and intellectual stability of that person. Insidiously, the unwanted and the unforeseen can creep into the soft tissue of one's being, corrupting and poisoning life. Unless an event or person evokes an awakening, a person can find himself possessed of a persona that has become brutish and unwieldy. There is no greater sense of having wasted a portion of one's life than existing blind to meanness or insincerity that one never imagined would have gotten hold of one's thoughts and actions. Optimism is a good thing, but being a Pollyanna is to court destruction. To leave unquestioned the popular trends of society that compel one to "follow along" is a philosophy ill-chosen.

Idealism, which has a utopian quality, is inappropriate in a world where corrupt interests abound and where there are many who go about on all fours. The monstrous prevails and the human and artistic potential miscarries.

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

When the authors of the Gospels emphatically stated that no one had to tell Jesus about human nature, they just as well could have been encouraging everyone to become cognizant of the realities about what a human being is. Read here not a declaration of the viciousness of human nature but its vicissitudes. Assuming a mind of sound and steady reasoning, the individual desires a life of security and productiveness. That same individual must be watchful. Circumstances, both obvious and covert, can produce a series of causes and effects that can prove deleterious to correct thought and action. Unconsciously, one's character may adopt a definition totally incompatible with the personal perception of what one thought oneself to be. Unfortunately, the manifestation of these changes usually comes at the expense of others. When it becomes clear that some aberration of moral behavior is present, the individual reaches a crossroads that portends either a future of integrity and wisdom or of deceit and distortion. The pathway one chooses reveals the inner strength or weakness of the soul and the understanding of righteousness or the lack thereof.

An opinion once offered by George Bernard Shaw held that many misconstrue the qualities in human nature. He said that most people think that there are a great mass of religious people and relatively few atheists. Shaw believed that there really are a large proportion of "worldly" people and a smaller number of religious people who truly care about the sanctity of their souls and that of others. If his position is correct, there exists a great need for an epiphany of God's grace and will as well as for an increase of one's bailiwick to encompass the eternal aspect of love and the futility of deifying worldly pursuits.

Should the sound and the feel of life create a persistent malaise, this very well may be an indicator that an invader is present that must be routed from one's being. A concluding wish is that all will be attentive to any buzzing in the attic of one's mind, heart, and soul and appreciate the imperative of addressing that sound immediately.