Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Reverence for Earwigs

There was an earwig in my kitchen sink this morning. 

I turned the faucet on full blast and swooshed the insect down the garbage disposal (which was turned on). As I saw it disappear, I wondered, What would Albert Schweitzer have done? 

I remembered hearing a story about Dr. Schweitzer moving his place setting rather than disturbing the ants parading across the table somewhere in Africa where he was doing great humanitarian things.

I don’t know if that story is true or just an illustration of his philosophy of “Reverence for Life” (for which he was awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize). He wrote: “The laying down of the commandment to not kill and to not damage is one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of mankind.” 

The Wikipedia entry calls him a French-German theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. 

Whatever else he was, he considered his work as a medical missionary his personal atonement for European colonizers. He wrote: “Oh, this 'noble' culture of ours! It speaks so piously of human dignity and human rights and then disregards this dignity and these rights of countless millions and treads them underfoot, only because they live overseas or because their skins are of different color.” 

I agree with so much of what Dr. Schweitzer wrote and did. 

And yet. 

It was an earwig!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Indelible Memory

It was time for it to come down. A decade ago I taped an odd collage onto the pantry entrance wall. On a piece of black construction paper, now faded, was an obituary for Jean K. Brabandt … and a little prose/poem I had written in response to her death. 

Jean was one of my first buddies in Loveland. We’d get together for lunch or just a cup of tea. Her sense of humor, or rather, her sense of delight, was what drew me to her. Tiny and spunky, she was full of surprises. I visited her little senior living apartment which she had somehow made habitable. When I commented on a lovely watercolor on one wall, she offered to show me others and promptly pulled another half dozen out from under her bed. 

The fact that she was more than 20 years older than I was irrelevant. We both had personal histories in the Chicago area. We both had traveled abroad. We went to the same church. And we loved to laugh together. 

The little prose/poem I wrote was sort of an apology. She had said that her doctor advised her to eat low-salt soup. I found some and was going to call to deliver the cans but time slipped away. Then she slipped away. 

For 10 years, I kept the faded obituary and prose poem as a reminder. The time to reach out to friends is always sooner than later. 

Always.