Blood Is Supposed to Be Thicker Than Water.
I saw my mom huddled over in the corner, crying almost uncontrollably. I asked her what was making her so sad, and although grief had her hostage, she did her best to explain that she had lost a very good friend.
I gently touched her on the shoulder, sat beside her, and asked if she meant that her friend had died. She said, no, that a conflict between my dad and her friend’s husband had caused the death of this most valued relationship between my mom and her dear friend.
We sat and talked for a while, and soon I learned another relevant lesson. It was then that she said to me, “Blood is supposed to be thicker than water.”
She went on to decode this truth: she had believed the strong bond she had with her friend was unbreakable, especially because she had been so loyal to her girlfriend and protected her when her girlfriend’s husband was abusive to her girlfriend so when it came time for her friend to fight for their friendship, her friend had chosen to stand beside her husband.
At the time I thought “blood is thicker than water” meant that if someone had to choose between a family member who was not a good friend or a loyal friend who was not family by blood, that person would always choose family. But what it really means is that even our own family ties, or “water from the womb,” should not be the determining decision as to whom one should be loyal to.
An example of that loyalty is in times past there was a ceremonial custom of mixing blood. Two people would each make a small cut on one hand, to slightly draw blood, and then shake hands so as to seal the bond; in doing so, they were forming a covenant to treat one another as blood brothers. This signified an everlasting alliance. In simple terms, it meant this blood relationship was thicker or more substantial than just sharing the same DNA with someone. Hence the saying, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Later in life, when I had my own experiences of losing friends I thought I would have for life, I came to understand the pain my mom felt and the fear that argued to her over the loss of her friend and that void would never be filled again.
As an adult, I have opened my heart, my home, my wallet, and my mind to share all that I had with people I presumed to be my blood comrades, only to receive a meager return. And when I saw how those same individuals gave to their family members, though they were treated unkindly by them, my mom’s face came to mind and I recalled the pain in her heart that was now mine.
I didn’t want to give up on people and be a loner, but I knew I had to develop a higher concept of relationships, so as I usually do when challenges arise, I searched for the highest solution by turning wholeheartedly to prayer. I continued to search for a greater understanding of love, and it became clear to me that love is meant to be shared, exchanged, and felt—we are not to withhold its splendor.
I read, I studied, and I pondered, finding precious pearls of wisdom; one idea came from the gospel of Matthew 12:46-48 “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” (KJV)
I searched for a deeper understanding of this and found Matthew Henry’s commentary, “His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours.”
In consulting with my mentor at the time about this subject, she led me to a particular concept that was like a message directly from heaven. It was written by theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy and can be found in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
“Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.”
I was so moved by this passage that it changed my entire belief system on how love is supposed to look, even though it meet no return. Love still looks like love. Not one thing changes about love. It is still kind, it is still benevolent, and it remains forever merciful. It never becomes unloving. But this concept is not an easy one to uphold. It requires a discipline of selflessness, which is not always easy.
I love to love, and I certainly love to be loved, but now I get it. Love is not always going to be returned the way you’d like just because you have shared it, and even if it does, there is no guarantee it will last a lifetime.
There are still times when I long to hear a thoughtful message from those I have loved but have since left my experience; times that I hope to receive a message of why they really left or even just an update as to how they are doing. But even if I never do, I must remain satisfied and without regret for loving them in the first place.
I trust that if I continue to be filled with the love that Love is, one day it will no longer matter if anyone else shares love with me, because the true fulfillment of Love leaves no room for loneliness.
I love you!
I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what geese can teach us.
Geese are categorized as anseriformes, which include about 140 different species. A female is called a goose and a male a gander. A baby is called a gosling. A group of geese is called a gaggle. Though they are waterfowls they do like spending quite a bit of time on land. They love to eat mostly fertilized grass and spend most of the daytime doing just that.1
Geese fly together in what is called a “V” formation or a wedge. This enables them to fly 70% better than if they fly solo.2 They make a honking noise, which symbolizes “encouragement” to whomever is leading the formation and when the goose or gander who is at the point position tires or sickens, another one in the formation moves into that post so the one who needs rest can fall back.3
Geese are very caring for one another and feel more secure when together as a gaggle. If one in the gaggle becomes ill, some will leave the formation with that one and remain with it until it heals or passes on.4
Geese mate for life and if a partner dies, the surviving partner will mourn and go into seclusion. They often remain single for a very long time and sometimes even until they die.5
When the goose lays her eggs, she makes certain that they are well covered, keeping them hidden from predators and the gander stands guard over them. Both parents participate in raising their gosling, which is why scientists claim that the offspring of geese are expected to have long lives.6
When the goslings hatch, the parents immediately lead them to the water so they learn to become acclimated to it, sooner rather than later.
Geese are certainly extraordinary birds who seem to have a great regard for one another. Their loyalty to support each other when challenges arise and the flying gets tough is a lesson we can take from them.
The fact that both parents raise their gosling is most certainly another important practice that we people need to note, especially because this parenting increases the life expectancy of the geese’s progeny.
One of my favorite lessons from geese is how they remain with the one who is sick or dying until the very end. When I think of how many individuals are sent away to nursing homes, forgotten and overlooked, this act of compassion and benevolence from birds is most amazing and most definitely something that we humans should exercise more of.
The next time you come across geese or look above and see a “V” formation, maybe it’s a sign that it is time to make a call of encouragement to someone who needs it and cheer that person on.
1 Http://www.interestingfunfacts.com/author/ritu. “Cool Facts About Goose.” Interestingfunfactscom. 2012. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.interestingfunfacts.com/cool-facts-about-goose.html.
2 @peta. “The Hidden Lives of Ducks and Geese.” PETA. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/ducks-geese/hidden-lives-ducks-geese/.
3 “Cool Facts About Geese.”
I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what ants can teach us.
Such a small thing an ant is, but don’t let that fool you because they sure can build big ideas!
Have you ever been faced with ants in your house? They seem to show up in groups!
Speaking about groups of ants, the biggest ant colony in the world used to be in Japan made up of 306 million workers, 1 million queens and 45,000 nests. A “massive supercolony was found in Southern Europe – built by Argentine ants.”1 That was more than 3700 miles long, including billions of worker ants along with millions of nests. The distance between Mexico to Alaska! Okay that’s amazing!
Living and working together as a unit is a demonstration of strength in numbers. “...it was discovered that the biggest Japanese, Californian and European Argentine ant supercolonies were in fact part of a single global ‘megacolony’. That means, they live in a global network just like us humans. Two ants from this ‘megacolony’, no matter how far apart they lived from one another, never fought each other. They were all part of the same group of ‘buddies’.”2
“Buddies!” That’s something.
Joining together in one accord is a great lesson to learn from ants. Banding together harmoniously, “a league of their own,” if you will, playing on the same team to accomplish the good for all is most certainly a useful and productive concept.
There is however, one thing I would like to point out. Once the queen ant mates with the males to produce more females, the males die soon afterwards, so maybe we should leave that out of the lesson from ants!