Thursday, July 13, 2006
Harvester Ants and Yucca Hats and Potential
Early this morning I was outside the East wall seated on a rather large rock, quietly observing the rising sun making its scheduled appearance along with the long shadows cast upon this flat landscape. The shadows always intrigue me, for a distant Joshua tree of perhaps ten feet in height will cast a shadow that seems to go on forever. Seated in the stillness, countless forever shadows all seemed to point toward me. And the ants. Several yards in front, thousands of brownish-black ants, all casting long and tiny shadows, seemed oblivious to the drama of the sun in their orderly chaos, with hundreds that seemed to be caught in a freeway clover-loop, helter-skelter, here and there, while others were headstrong in their mission, fanning out in somewhat orderly columns, unaware, or unconcerned about the chaos of the others. It was then that I felt a tap on my shoulder, and lo-and-behold, it was Bro. Clarence, looking down from beneath the wide brim of what appeared to be a straw hat. "This is for you," he said, from behind his back an identical wide-brimmed hat appeared. "Yucca!" Of course he said it with much glee, and immediately I knew the meaning, Bro. Clarence is now weaving hats from the fibers of the Yucca leaf. I was delighted, tried it on, and I must admit, it fit well, and the exceptionally wide brim was a delight, for I knew soon the sun would be up and bearing down upon our heads, but now I was prepared, and would carry forth my own bit of shade for the remainder of the day. "Harvester ants," was his next utterance, and after that he continued at a fast clip, always when he is excited the words come quick and steady. So now I attempt to recall those words, and I must admit, half of his words may have shot over my head while I was still processing the first half. First I learned that the Harvester ant feeds primarily on seeds! They are seed collectors. And most of the ants that I had been pondering were in fact sterile females! "Where are the males?" I asked. After sprouting wings and giving their all to the queen, they have served their useful purpose, and die. Then he carried on with some fascinating details about colonies and socialization and division of labor and with a sweep of his arms he estimated the population of ants within our eyesight, "Maybe ten thousand trillion!" To all that I could only utter what I know about ants, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest" (Proverbs 6:6-8). And here I was, under the wide brim as the former long shadows in the landscape were now shrinking, I thanked Bro. Clarence for the gift of his hands and the gift of his mind, but before I could rise from my rock seat, he said, and I do hope I can remember this with some exactitude, that, "Potential is the creation that they all seem to miss. God created 'potential' and within all the material and all the immaterial, potential exists. Yet science busies itself with all but the potential. We discover and label the results, we call them natural laws, Einstein and others calculate the aftermath, yet God planted potential into all matter, even into the quark!" With that he reached down and pinched some sand between his fingers, then let that sand drop, grain by grain, into his open palm. "This grain of sand has the potential to be a dune, to be a desert! To join concrete and water to be a wall, to be a bridge, to be our dwelling!" And then he went on about physics and 'potential energy' and that all creation is the stored energy or the released energy or the transfer of energy, yet when all is said and done, all is potential. With that I urged Bro. Clarence to put all this down on paper, and his response, "... and then where would I find the time to weave Yucca hats!"