You Swirling Tornado of a Human Being

note: picture above is from the field at the end of my favorite walking/running trail near my home – the trail ends in a wide-open field – the stacks of wooden boxes are bee hives, and they are from Yakima, WA – some 137 miles away from Maple Valley.

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The following is a poem entitled “We Are The People” by Naomi Shihab Nye…

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We are the people

always going somewhere else. What is this peculiar attribute of our households, our days, our nation? We will not be here long enough to get tired of it. Does this make us less responsible? It’s that relationship you have with a towel when the towel belongs to a hotel.

If we can’t go anywhere else, are we more encouraged to enhance and protect the place where we are?

Hmmmmmm. Bzzzzzzzz.

We should do all we can to stay out of jail, but now and then it is quite uplifting to pretend we are under house arrest.

I heard, if you spend less time at work (does this apply to school, too?) you do better work while there. Concentrated bursts enhance performance. Drop all the prefacing and wrap-up, and more gets done.

In the old days, honeybees found their own pastures and meadows, clumps and clots of pollen. In the new days, their hives were carted by farmers here and there, intentionally. The bees were rented out. How this affected their stability and general constitutions may only now be emerging with the sudden total disappearance of a large number of honeybees in the world. I mean, if you get rented out, what does that do to your willpower? If you get carted around, what does that do to your radar?

I know people who, the minute they get into their homes, tell you where they are going next.

I am one of them.

This is nothing to be proud of.

I am trying something out. Where are you going?

Nowhere, nowhere at all.

It feels like an aberration.

But a certain calm descends upon the house.

One evening, after remembering there used to be a lovely thing in the sky called a “sunset,” I trundled to my front porch, sat on the top step with an icy glass of freshly squeezed limeade, some crushed mint leaves thrown in for good luck, and waited. The western sky rumpled and heaved, brewing elegantly, turning over, graying and pinking all at once. Maybe it was too cloudy for a sunset. Cars rolled past, going home from work. What a comforting, sometimes lonely hour.

Streaks of red shot out from behind the gray rumples. My neighbor walked past with her dog. “What’s wrong?” she called. I said, “What? Nothing.” She said, “Why are you sitting there like that?” I pointed to the sky. She looked and shrugged. “Oh, you look locked out.”

So ask yourself, you swirling tornado of a human being, in a world of disoriented honeybees,

do you want to look locked out the minute you sit down?

I ask you.



I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

3 Comments to You Swirling Tornado of a Human Being

  1. I’m too much of a swirling tornado to reply to your blog posts –

    After returning from a long journey to the other side of the world, it was tough to come home. Our conversations on the flights back circled around this question : can we live our life back home like we are on vacation? Meaning, can we take time to enjoy conversation and eachothers company, feel less stress.

    Our brutally honest conclusion was no – no, because our life is so full of clutter that leads to stress and strain. On the contrast, on our vacation the most difficult decisions we had to make were what swimsuit will we through in our daypack? and, what fun hole in the wall can we find to enjoy for dinner?

    Coming home from vacation to bustling jobs with endless to-do lists hurled us to a place where peace and rest came to a screeching halt. So, we have to practice our vacation mindset behavior. Stay put, enjoy where we are. Give thanks for God’s Creation and our many blessings.

    Stopping after all the swirling doesn’t just make me look locked out, it leaves me with a self-inflicted feeling that I’m locked out of enjoying God’s blessings.

    • I know that feeling well (of coming home from travels where the experience of life and its pace were much more simple). Finding joy and contentment and peace in the simple things of life is forever a challenge in our American keeping-up-with-the-Joneses culture.
      In the past few years, Shari and I have attempted to embrace sabbath-keeping in our weekly routine. It seems like our world is always demanding more from us – but there is something beautiful and healing and holy about setting aside that time for rest… to say NO, to sit and be, to go nowhere, to truly be home and present and alive. We’re working on it.
      Thanks for sharing Chelsea!

  2. Best post I’ve read in some time. Love the poetic prose wrapped around the sunset and the disoriented honeybees. I will have to read more of Naomi Nye. Thank you for sharing this and for the reflection on being still to be deep.

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