“A bee comforted me very much this morning concerning the desultoriness that troubles me in our work. There seems so infinitely much to be done, that nothing gets done thoroughly. If work were more concentrated, as it must be in educational or medical missions, there would be less of this – but we seem only to touch souls and leave them. And that was what the bee was doing, figuratively speaking. He was hovering among some blackberry sprays, just touching the flowers here and there in a very tentative way, yet all unconsciously, life-life-life was left behind at every touch, as the miracle-working pollen grains were transferred to the place where they could set the unseen spring working. We have only to see to it that we are surcharged, like the bees, with potential life. It is God and His eternity that will do the work. Yet He needs His wandering desultory bees.” Diary 9 July 1907
I must admit to resorting to Webster’s Dictionary upon my first reading of “desultory” in this diary entry of Lilias. This is what I found: “Desultory 1. jumping from one thing to another; disconnected; not methodical.” Could there be a better description of my varied and, yes, often random actions? It seems that my day is just that: a jumping from one activity to another… a series of disconnected endeavors… with no mind nor method. It may be a simple as housekeeping activities: settle down to one task only to be diverted by the buzz of the dryer (must get those clothes out immediately) or the ring of the phone. I may sit down to attend a writing or study project only to go in search of a related resource – which pulls me off into several other related readings… And that’s just the start of a day.
Reality. Often I reach the end of day and wonder: what have I done today that has any lasting significance? Well, any significance – lasting or, for that matter, immediate?! How does one measure the worth of actions that are repetitive and without apparent results? An email or letter (often long overdue) finally written and mailed. . . a telephone conversation. . . a visit or meal with a friend. . . a meeting attended. . . a service performed. . . a deadline met. . . a blog attempted?!
And then that little “desultory bee” comforts me. It really doesn’t matter what I accomplish or how that activity is regarded by myself or others. What matters is that I am “surcharged,” like that bee, with potential life. When I draw upon the source of Life – like the bee touching the life-giving pollen in its disconnected hoverings – I receive “life” that can be transferred to whomever wherever my random actions may take me.
I do not discount the importance of the stewardship of time, of planning effective work strategies. But the best of plans are often foiled and even the finest accomplishments appear futile or ephemeral. The most important thing that I can do, each and every day, is to wait upon God – to listen to Him through His Word and His world – and allow Him to surcharge me with Life. The rest is over to God.
“We have only to see to it that we are surcharged, like the bees, with potential life. It is God and His eternity that will do the work. Yet He needs His wandering desultory bees.” ILT
Painting: Diary 9 July 1907