Walking through our woods this week, I spied in a tall beech tree, a hornet’s nest. I left it well enough alone except to zoom in (140mm) with my Nikon camera. With my naked eye I could only observe a few hornets flying around the nest but the photo revealed ones clinging to the paper-like nest and crawling in and out of the hole at the bottom.
I marveled at the creation of chewed wood fiber mixed with hornet saliva (I had to look that up!) Apparently, the cycle of building a nest begins with queen hornets constructing nests to house their eggs in which they lay one egg with a cell and build a comb constructing tier after tier. Eggs eventually hatch into larvae which become sterile adult females whose job it is to build more nest and tend to the brood while the queen’s sole duty is to lay eggs from which future hornets are born in late summer. Eventually, the queen will produce male hornets whose only purpose is to mate with queens. These fertilized queens hide for the winter. Next spring/summer, the cycle begins anew.
Nature teaches me – always. I returned to the site of the hornet nest several times in the past couple of days pausing to ponder what lesson I could learn. Don’t stir up a hornet’s nest was the thought that kept coming to me. Well, that’s just common sense, right? I’ve witnessed the harm a handful of angry hornets can inflict on pets and people and could only imagine what a colony of angry and stirred up hornets might do. (I saw a few horrible minutes of Irwin Allen’s 1978 disaster movie, The Swarm, which is about African killer bees so I figured hornets would be about the same!)
I’ve heard and even used the cliché “don’t stir up a hornet’s nest” throughout my life. This time it gave me pause. I pondered what it might mean for my life and my spirituality – if at all. I came up with some questions which I list below for your journaling, pondering, praying, sharing with a spiritual director or companion or creating some artistic expression. Perhaps you have other questions you would like to share. Please feel free to pose those questions for all.
What does it mean when we say “you don’t want to stir up that hornet’s nest” or “all she’s doing is stirring up a hornet’s nest”? Do you maintain the status quo to avoid reprisals and the stings of personal attacks?
When you observe someone stirring up the status quo, do you sting and attack or do you support and encourage? Are you able to protect those who stir the paper-like nest?
How do you feel when someone challenges YOUR paper-like nest? Do you come out stingers ready? What happens inside when you get “stirred up”? Are you mindful of being “stirred up”? When you are aware of being stirred, how do you handle those feelings?
Are you a worker or a queen? How do you respond to those around you see who are the “queens” or the “workers” who may not be like you? Have you ever “stirred up a hornet’s nest”? What feelings did you experience challenging the status quo?
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