It's a focalized pain, the wasp sting.
It burns in the spot when the venom goes in, and itches like crazy at the same time. The pain radiates quickly from the center and the skin begins to harden as white blood cells mount their voluntary army to fight the invader. It kept hurting, even after putting a baking soda paste on it. It just hurt, and I remember the experience because I remember the pain. That's because I felt a bit like a victim.
What had I ever done to Willard? Didn't I try to get along with him and his relatives? I couldn't even remember the last time I had killed a wasp. That admission told me at some point I had. So, in the end with Willard, what I learned was pretty physical – that dead wasps pack potent venom.
So, on the last day of 2011, I went into my bathroom and saw the trash can nearing the overflow point. Emptying trash is one of my son's chores, and we had repeatedly touched bases with the need since Christmas Day. Hadn't happened. I knew he had been occupied and would certainly be today, so I decided to quickly do the chore myself before leaving. I reached in the trash to move it to a bag for easy disposal and I felt a pinch on my thumb. It was an odd stabbing pain.
Instinctively, I drew my hand back. No blood. No cut. As far as looks went, it was as if nothing had happened. That reality check did nothing to end the pain I felt. It was throbbing, traveling into my hand.
Was it electrical? I didn't think that possible since there was no sender there for me to receive.
Then the images of Wanda in my sink and Willard in my study appeared in the pain fog, and I realized what must have occurred. I'd been smitten by another dead wasp. How does this sort of thing happen?
"Ah, Wanda, I should have buried you at sea," I thought. If I'd flushed her down the toilet, I wouldn't be nursing my thumb now. Better choices had been available just an hour ago, and going any farther down that road was not going to help me in the present moment. In the present moment, I am taking part in a 24-hour peace vigil at the Peace Dome. This year, we have decided to welcome the new year meditatively. This means someone will be meditating at all times during the 20-hour and 12-minute period extending mostly before and a bit after the turn of the new year. A physical distraction like pain was not part of the plan here. I expected to experience clear mental, emotional and physical space for my meditations.
That was before Wanda left her legacy in my right thumb.
As I walk to the Peace Dome for the morning gathering, I rub my thumb with my left hand. I've had many experiences of healing these kinds of things. I'm particularly good with burns. The poison is radiating, I can feel the skin hardening all the way to the fingernail and down into the thumb joint. I focus my mind, surrendering my will to Spirit's, activating the healing power within, in the way I have done for years.
All of these thoughts create an arc to the first day of the year.
Dad Daniel, son Hezekiah, and I had traveled to Chillicothe, most of the morning. Leaving town only a couple hours after the vigil ended, meant very little sleep, but I was intent on supporting because the family Christmas gathering is so important to Daniel. We returned in the evening arriving around 8:30 pm.
It was such a strange thing what happened next. It is one of those "God, what did I do that for?!" and "Why over that of all things?" kind of moments. And of course, the granddaddy of persecutors, "Oh, man I really wish I hadn't done that." Problem is if I'm asking these questions, it's too late for confession to do the miraculous healing of avoiding the mishap altogether. You have done it and the results are looking you in the face like those glowing plus signs on a pregnancy test. It's heaven sent when you are ready to bring children into the world. When you aren't, it's something altogether different. When the mishap has manifested, what remains is facing one's capacity for repentance.
I've had my share of missed happenings, where the universe is asking, Just how good are you at changing? I've learned to identify the places that need changing. I ask myself, "What can I do to make a difference here?" or "How can I adjust to improve this situation?" A daily meditator for most of my life, I can watch the thoughts arise from within me when I know I've gotten myself into trouble. I respond to them, one at a time, which requires me to both observe the thoughts and to slow them, similar to how you might slow the action on a movie. This power of velocity control cools the head, and I can more clearly see. As a result, each experience has been different because I am willing to change.
This is why Wanda's sting took me back to what happened the first day of the year. When we arrived, I was tired in every way possible. I was mentally and emotionally tired from the visiting, physically tired from lack of sleep the previous three days, and spiritually weary from the contrast between a 24-hour peace vigil and normal, everyday human commerce. I was ready to get some rest.
I walked into our son's bedroom to find no sheets on his bed. This state of affairs hit me "the wrong way". Kie was 15. He knows how to put sheets on his bed. He has great eyesight, so he can see when that's needed as well. My frustration rising on a tide of emotion was a carry-over from too many conversations about rest, sleep, preparing a space, cleanliness, and all other purposes for changing bed linen. "I am so not being heard!" I thought, my mother-ego kicking up with resentment. My tiredness drained me of generosity. I didn't have any reserves for the act of service I felt called upon to perform. "Do you want to cry or just get mad?" I heard my typical female programming turn on.
Shaking it off, I looked around his room for the clean sheets that belong on his bed. They were nowhere in sight. Nor were they in the bathroom linen closet. I asked Daniel if he'd seen the sheets and his seeming disinterest raised the fire again. "Why do I always have to be the one to keep up with everyone else's stuff?"
I thought about changing the direction of the thought, holding Hezekiah or Daniel accountable, "Would you…." I started to ask, reflected on the fairness of the question that seemed to have no real answer in the present moment, and decided to drop it and, in Little Red Hen fashion, just do the chore myself.
Exhaling an expletive under my breath, I flew down the hall and out the front door. I was headed to the linen closet next door and I landed, quite literally on the side of my left foot. The stoop drops a foot, four inches more than the average stair step. Doesn't sound like much but when all my weight came down on my left foot it slipped off the new welcome mat, twisted down and outward. I took in a sharp breath. The pain was immediate.
"Oh my," I thought. "I'm in trouble with this one." I've had flexible ankles all my life. I've often twisted them a bit with no real injury. This was different.