The Fly in My Window

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A large fly had gotten into my room and was buzzing around the window, presumably looking for a way to go outside. So to accommodate its desire, I opened the lower screen and waited for it to leave through this large opening to freedom.

But the fly continued to fly upwards and repeatedly collided with the window glass. I tried to help by rolling up my latest edition of the Levittown Tribune and with it I tried to nudge the fly to the lower section of the window. But this only caused the fly to retreat even further up the window.

“How stupid!” I thought. If only the fly could see things from my perspective, it would have been on its way. But its instinct kept it repeating fruitless behaviors and its lack of perspective kept it from seeing the really valuable truth that would set it free.

I got to thinking that sometime I’m engaged in similar fly-like behavior where I’m trapped in my own set of habits and I need a different perspective to see the much richer opportunities that are available to me.

Now habits aren’t bad in themselves. My driving habits have kept me alive so far. My praying habits have given me patience and peace. My writing habits keep my brain active. But then there are my eating habits (too much), my exercise habits (too little), my judgment habits (too limited). And there are ways I’m conditioned to behave and think and even pray that I’m not even aware of. It’s like I’m living in the upper quadrant of a window when the lower half offers new unexplored and fulfilling experiences. I don’t have a clue of what’s available.

People who are in their mid-life period of their lives often discover the previously undiscovered aspects of their life, in fact that is the task of mid-life. We become more integrated and fulfilled when we balance the first half of our lives with the parts of our lives that have been lying dormant so far. People who were driven to achieve for the first decades of their life discover a nurturing or artistic side that was longing to be developed. People in nurturing careers early on, now look to fulfill themselves in new productive ways. Handled well, this mid-life period doesn’t need to lead to a crisis, though there are stresses that usually accompany change.

Since my newspaper-waving didn’t help the fly, but rather frightened it, I thought it would have been better if I could have momentarily become a fly myself and then lead the trapped fly to freedom. Of course that couldn’t happen. But such help and wisdom is possible when the wise and experienced ones among us help show us the way. I’m grateful to the people in my life who offer me their insights, their corrections, their examples that I can follow. I’m offered new freedoms and more whole (and holy) ways to live and love.

I was thinking that if my perspective was so much better than the fly’s, how much better God’s perspective is from ours. Sometimes people mistakenly think that God’s way is restrictive. But the opposite it is true. It’s as if God opens wide the windows of our lives to let us fly. We are the ones who live restricted and limited lives. I truly believe that being part of a church community can open us to that perspective and gives people the development and fulfillment that they long for. It keeps us from living isolated and limited lives and it offers us new perspectives that our creator wants to offer us.

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Pastor of St. Bernard's since 2013 and known for his engaging homilies and community presence, Father Ralph Sommer is also a treasured columnist for the Levittown Tribune.

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