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.