I heard a Fly buzz…

…everywhere.  Much apology to Emily Dickinson and her lovely poem, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died,” but this is now one of my great fears: I will never escape all the buzzing and instead will die and still have houseflies buzzing in my final resting place.

It is really hot in Savannah and my husband and I decided at lunch that the flies must be coming in from the attic, seeking the coolness of the air conditioning.  Goodness knows nothing else want to be outside right now either; who can blame them?

We thought it was the dog going in and out, but I’ve been very careful since my son and my husband went on their murderous fly-killing rampages lately.  My normally gentle son sought the word “massacre” to describe his industry in killing five or six on the back window.  My husband got two this morning and probably a half dozen more at lunchtime.  And still they buzz – one in the bathroom, another in the bedroom and I think yet one more in the kitchen.

So can flies be like a spiritual practice too?

I don’t think it will do my practice any good to say they are annoying and keep coming back like a pesky spiritual practice, but I’ll say it anyway.  A spiritual director friend and I were just on the phone in the dining room (where a fly buzzed against the filmy curtains) and we talked about how some days we do our practice – in this case going to church – without really wanting to, because we do it for more than just ourselves.  And in the best situations, once we’re in the middle of it, we realize that it helped us too.  I guess that’s where the fly metaphor breaks down.  I’m not quite sure how they are good for me.

So how else might an abundance of houseflies be like a spiritual practice? Do you think the Great Almighty, Father God, the Creator of the World, The Ground of All Being – whatever you might call the Divine Presence – ever feels like a housefly in your life: not quite welcome, but always buzzing, trying to be noticed amidst the backdrop of your life?  That’s a scary metaphor too, considering how many flies our family has swatted dead this week.  I suppose, at least for Christians, the God-killing metaphor might cut a little too close to home now that we’re well past Holy Week and Easter.

Or maybe we are the fly, buzzing carelessly – or with a purpose I can’t yet understand – around the home, looking for comfort and a big plate of meatballs to settle down on, not really knowing that there’s an evil with a plastic flyswatter just waiting for us to settle down to our feast.  Maybe then I need to offer up a prayer for the One Who is Good to find a way to scoop me up and set me back outside where it’s hot, but I’m a little safer minding my own business as I buzz around.

Or maybe the fly is no metaphor at all, merely a reminder to notice the small things in life. That’s a spiritual practice all in itself.

How might you imagine a fly buzzing around as a spiritual practice or a reminder of the Divine? Are there little annoyances in your life that you might reframe in spiritual terms? Do you sometimes feel like you’d rather not do your spiritual practice?  How do you respond in those situations? We often think that the little things we “should” notice in life are always good. Is there a way to suspend judgment if instead we find them irritating?

If your spiritual practices have become annoying or you just want to explore options for drawing closer to the Divine, consider how spiritual direction with Openings: Let the Spirit In can help. And enjoy your summer – even the flies!

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