My grandson’s bus is late…or I’m early. He’s six and someone walks to meet the school bus each day; today it’s me. I settle on the low curb in the available shade of a dried-out bush to wait. It’s quiet, the sounds of rural nature only occasionally disturbed by a car motoring by. Having little to focus my thoughts, I observe the rough surface of the grey asphalt below my feet, still hot on a September Texas day, and how much this house and yard where I’m sitting looks uncared for, dried out and decayed, how it might mirror its owner in troubles. Then something catches my attention; it’s a tiny movement to be sure but when I turn back to the street, I see it’s only a wasp walking, headed across the street.
I don’t much like stinging insects, having been stung more than once. This wasp I notice is not striped like the more common “yellowjacket” but solid red with black wings, the kind we call “red wasps.” He is struggling over the hot bumpy pavement, falling on his back from time to time then flailing around until righting himself to continue the journey.
Then, I realize I don’t remember ever seeing a wasp do so much walking. Why is it walking instead of flying? I lean forward, interested. Oh. The wasp has only one wing, its remaining left wing fluttering mightily but serving only to unbalance him as he struggles over the lumpy surface. I wonder what happened to him and how difficult it must be to be condemned to walking when he once flew.
Should I put him out of his misery? After all, the next car that passes will likely do that anyway. No, that’s not for me to decide. Surely he won’t complete his journey; the wide street is a vast expanse for such a tiny injured creature. Of what use is an imperfect insect, especially one that might sting? If he makes it across, won’t he just fall prey to something on the other side? What kind of life will he find there?
Yet he soldiers on, intent in purpose, taking an irregular but steady path.
I cannot know his reason for undertaking such difficulty; it is enough that he knows. In this moment the wasp seems for me like our world’s immigrants that are so on my mind these days. Like the wasp, they seek to cross their own oceans, each suffering some kind of loss, their journeys perilous, their fates uncertain. To some, they may seem as worthless as a one-winged wasp crossing a hot asphalt street. But I ask myself, does the wasp not deserve the opportunity, the hope of reaching safety, to perhaps find there another way to “fly”?
The wasp perseveres and makes it to the other side, then up the steep curb to the dry grass until I can no longer see him. I wish him well. He knows where he is headed, facing hardship and danger only a part of his journey.
“We are each of us angels with one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” -Luciano deCrescenzo