Did You Know Ants Have Tongues?

The other day, I read this line from a Mary Oliver poem and then jotted it down in my notes to think about: 

Did you know the ant has a tongue with which to gather in all that it can of sweetness?  

That quote may seem odd with the whole ant tongue image.  If you think about it too long, it feels downright icky.  The idea of ants crawling on me with their tongues scraping along... ewww. 

So, let's not think about that, shall we? Instead, let's consider the deeper meaning behind Oliver's observation about the ant and its desire to gather all that it can of sweetness. 

First, can we say that life can occasionally be a bit sour?  

Let's concede that for the moment because it is accurate. That sad fact can also dominate our thinking about life in general. 

For many people, sourness seems to be the only thing they can taste.  

They gravitate to it like my kid does to Sour Patch Kids candy.  And before long, they start to believe that even though other people might be able to taste the sweetness of life, they will never be able to. 

I've been in that state before, and I can't say that I liked myself an awful lot when I was in it. Unlike Sour Patch Kids, there isn't a lot of sweetness under the sourness life brings. 

If that's how you live, you can become pretty sour, too.  

We've all met people who live this way, and it's draining to be around them.  No matter what happens to them, even when it's good, they can't seem to taste anything but the sourness. 

Back to the ant and its formidable tongue. 

Oliver was tapping into the notion that if we have the mindset to gather all the sweetness we can in life, we begin to live like an ant walking around with its tongue out, gathering all that it can of it. 

Now, I don't recommend walking around with your tongue hanging out. That probably won't work out for you socially or otherwise.  You know what I mean, though.  

This may look like learning to live in gratitude so that in every situation you find yourself in, you are predisposed to be grateful and to give more generously. 

It could look like taking the time to be fully present in the present.  There are so many distractions around us, and while some may appear sweet at first, they may turn sour quickly.  

Savor the good moments with friends family, and even when you are by yourself.  None of us were meant to be alone in the world; God wants us to have a community to surround us.  

But we'll struggle to find the sweetness if we can't learn to be at peace and comfortable in solitude.  

Do whatever you need to do to gather up all the sweetness you can today.  Practice mindfulness and self-compassion as you do.  Give yourself a break when you taste something sour, but don't dwell on it. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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