On bacteria

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Cleta Crisman has edited a reflection from Arthur Roberts, first written and shared with pastors in Northwest Yearly Meeting in June 2003. At the time, Arthur’s wife, Fern, was struggling with an outbreak of “a particularly vicious variety of Clostridium bacteria.... A routine application of antibiotics in dental surgery” had compromised Fern’s guardian bacteria, and this “monster” was wreaking havoc on her body. 

Arthur writes that “maybe there’s a parable here: We live in an environment not only inhabited by good and bad bacteria in the gut, but also good and bad influences, persons, ideas, and spirits.” I might add that there are also systems, attitudes, perceptions. There is also our response.

A friend of mine frequently asks, “When you’re under stress, what is your default?” And how might we overcome such defaults (this bad bacteria in our guts)?

Arthur admits that he’s not sure exactly “what powerful combination of truth and love enables you to fend off the ‘destroyer.’” He’s too tired from battling these lions “that prey upon a loved one ... but love makes it not only bearable but spiritually fulfilling. In bearing one another’s burdens – whether burdens of the body, mind, or spirit – we fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Cleta offers a prayer suggestion at the end of Arthur’s reflection: “Lord, show me how to do my part to stay strong against any form of evil that would try to trip me up. Thank you for your constant and loving protection!”

Eric Muhr