Mosquito Bites & Pacifism

This afternoon as I was driving home from church, I was itching my mosquito bite. The one that mysteriously appeared on my thigh while I was at Pilgrim Lodge last week. The one that appeared even though I was in long pants all week. The one that I can't stop scratching.

As I tried to talk myself out of scratching and gazed past the bug splattered on my windsheild, I thought of the 12-year old girl who informed me matter-of-factly last week that she had never killed anything. She's a vegetarian because she can't imagine eating anything with a brain. I had just swatted an mosquito when she told me this. "Not even a mosquito?" I asked.

Her reply was steadfast. She's never killed a single living thing -- not intentionally, not ever. I was surprised and startled by my own reaction. I believe in a world at peace. I believe in that world with my whole heart. But, am I really taking those small steps in my own life? With those daily encounters I have, am I offering peace to my sisters and brothers? Or does my disregard for mosquitoes reflect my own interaction in the world?

An email arrived in my inbox this afternoon from a congregant who thought I had been harsh. I remember the conversation, as it was only a week ago. It was a quick interaction after a Friday night event at the church that had discouraged me. I had just received two negative comments. "Where was the rest of the church?" "This wasn't exactly what I had expected." And I already felt badly about the event when this congregant asked me a question while I was talking to someone else. I hate when people interrupt conversations. But, he did. And today, I got an email from him inferring that my reply to his question was telling him to go to hell. He didn't say that -- but he inferred it in no uncertain terms. His email explained that he had spoken to the Senior Minister while I was away. Though he was clear that he wanted to heal the relationship (my words, not his), I feel defeated. I feel like I squashed a mosquito and failed to make peace.


Alex said...


LadyBurg said...

If it makes you feel any better, I have yet to decide what "useful" purpose mosquitoes play in the world. Its not that they NEED a purpose (I guess), its just that it would make it easier not to kill them. We were in the Adirondacks a week ago and killed many a mosquito - not that you'd know that by the number of bites on the youth. Oh well.

Backwoods Rev said...

Sometimes I am grateful I live in the midwest where passive-aggression is alive and well and people just complain behind my back...

Pacifism doesn't always mean giving up of your own blood for others... Jesus did that already! Sometimes those mosquitoes need to be swatted.

It is hard to ignore a person who is the center of his own life: interrupting you, expecting a particular answer, going over your head to complain and expecting peace only on his terms.

Keep your diplomatic spirit high, you are doing great work!

LittleMary said...

argh. must we be nice and kind every single moment of our professional lives? i am harsh so regularly, i am glad i dont have a boss for people to complain to.