The Discerning Angel

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I AM ~ The Fly in the Ointment

By Ariel DeAngelis (with a little help from two Beloved Teachers)

I AM ~ The Fly in the Ointment

In a time immemorial and a land between there and here, there once lived a great physician. The physician was so great, in fact, that he was renowned far and wide for his wondrous potions and miracle cures.

One day a young man was brought into the physician’s examining room, unconscious and with a grievous open wound on his leg. The young man’s companions lifted him up and placed him gently on the examining table in the center of the room. Upon scrutinizing the wound the physician could tell that it had been festering and becoming infected for weeks, with no signs of healing at all in sight. He frowned asking the young man’s companions,

“How long ago did this happen?”

“At the beginning of the last month” replied one of the companions.

The physician’s frown deepened. He had only seen one wound as badly infected as this one, and although he was able to help the wound eventually heal, it took time, much pain, and his most precious ointment to heal, and even then, there was much scarring.

“I won’t mince words with you,” the physician began, “This will take a long time to heal even with my most effective ointment being applied daily, and even then I cannot guarantee whether or not this young man will walk again. The damage is very extensive. The treatment will be very expensive and you will need to leave him here for the duration of the treatment”.

The young man’s companions looked at each other grimly. It was obvious to the physician that these were simple folk, without much means to afford such an expensive treatment regimen. But one young man who had been standing behind the others all this time pushed forward and spoke up,

“Whatever it takes. We will find a way to pay you what you ask. Please, just heal him. He is our brother and we love him very dearly…”

A sudden pang struck the physician’s heart as he recalled his own brother who had died very young because of lack of means…

“Very well. Leave him here. You may go. Come back tomorrow if you would like to see how he is doing”.

“No,” said the brother who had spoken up, “Please, if we could we, would like to stay the night with him. We understand that he is barely aware we are here, but still, we would like to stay. We won’t be any burden to you and we will stay back out of the way…”

Well, this wasn’t the usual protocol at all for the physician, but he agreed. “Alright, you may stay, but please stand back and give me room to work.”

With that, the brothers went to the far corner of the room and conferred with one another.

The physician went about busying himself cleaning and preparing the wound for treatment. When the wound was prepared and the bandages waiting ready to dress it, the physician went over to his apothecary and opened a small, yet thick-walled stoneware jar, reached in and took out a much smaller porcelain jar with a gold colored lid on it. He carefully popped the lid off and gazed in at its contents; a smooth, golden colored salve which he had compounded himself with the most precious components he could procure from his “most trusted sources”. Yes, pure gold. He had paid much in pure gold to obtain the ingredients for this concoction, and thus, this small amount was all he could afford to have on hand at any one time. Though it should prove to be plenty enough to address even a wound such as this even over a period of time – a little would go a long way.

It was mid-summer and the air hung heavy with heat and humidity in the glow of the late afternoon sun. As the physician made his way over to the patient to begin applying the ointment to the wound, a fly flew in through the door which had been left ajar upon arrival of the brothers. The physician who heard and then saw the fly instinctively put his hand over the open jar. Knowing from experience, and that one of the ingredients in the ointment was honey, he also knew that the flies would go straight for it if he did not take measures to keep them away from the open jar.

He no longer heard the fly buzzing, and judging that it was safe, removed his hand from over the jar. But it was too late. There, stuck in ointment in the very middle of the jar, where it was most noticeable, was the fly. He poked at the fly with his forefinger, even knowing how sticky the ointment was and from previous experience that this was not the way to try and get the fly out. The fly made an audible buzzing sound as the physician’s finger pushed it deeper into the golden goo. He looked up in the direction of the brothers gathered in the corner to see if any of them had noticed. They were still in quiet conversation amongst themselves, all looking away for the moment.

The physician felt that he really couldn’t afford to throw any of the ointment away, except perhaps what was stuck to the fly after his intention to fish it out of the ointment… it had worked before, so why not this time? And besides, it seemed to the physician that they were really in a race “against” time if he were to save the young man’s leg and most assuredly his life in the process. He moved quietly over to a worktable where he kept many implements which he used in his curative processes. He picked up a small wooden stirring stick and put it in the jar where the fly had now sunk quite deep into the center of the ointment. He fished around for it for several minutes, but could not get the fly to stay on the stick long enough to get it out of the ointment. And naturally, as you might expect, all of the agitation of the fly in the ointment resulted in the fly being broken into so many pieces it would be impossible to get it all out, resulting in the necessity of throwing the whole batch out and starting over from scratch.

The physician considered his plight. Should he explain to the brothers that a fly had gotten into the ointment and spoiled it and that he would not be able to help their brother after all? Could he “buy time” by providing the patient with a less effective treatment while he waited for the necessary components for a new batch to be made, to be delivered from his “most trusted sources”? He was truly in a quandary. But then he hit on an idea! What if… and he looked over at the brothers still conversing in the corner, seemingly oblivious to what exactly the physician was doing… what if he simply stirred the fly into the ointment and used it anyway. No one would probably ever know because he intended to dress the wound anyway. Of course, he had no idea whether or not there would be any bad effects on the wound or the patient. Though in times past when he WAS successful in fishing the fly out of the ointment without leaving any fly parts behind, it didn’t seem to cause any adverse reactions that he could recall.

The physician quietly turned his back on the brothers and began to stir the ointment. He stirred and stirred until every last bit of the fly was stirred in, and in fact, although the color of the ointment was not quite the same as had been before, it in fact seemed to obtain a thicker, more spreadable consistency, and even appeared to have gained a bit of volume from the air that had been stirred into it along with the fly. He took the mixture over and applied it to the wound on the young man’s leg just as he had intended to do in the first place.

Just then the more outspoken of the brothers looked up and asked, “How is it going? Is everything alright so far?”

To which the physician responded in a bit of a stuttering tone “Oh… yes, yes yes… everything is just fine. Now I will dress the wound and leave it overnight. Then I will examine it in the morning to see how well healing is progressing”. He managed to feign a smile at the brother, and the brother smiled back.
“Is there perhaps an inn in this town where we might find sustenance and modest lodging for the night? We would take our leave of you now and return in the morning since we are certain that our brother is in capable hands”. The physician pointed down the street to the left. “Go out the door and that direction, about 3 doors down you’ll find an establishment to your liking I should think… Yes, come back in the morning and we will examine the wound.”

The brothers each thanked the physician before leaving. After they had gone, he sat down in his chair by the door to wait. For what, he wasn’t really sure. The hours ticked away on the large clock that stood in the far corner.

Bright sunlight filtered in through the East window, hitting the physician square in the eyes as the second and third crow from a cock sounded from a barnyard a ways off (he never heard the first crow).

He sat up suddenly from his slumped slumber in the chair and looked at the patient who had propped himself up on one elbow on the examining table and was looking at him expectantly.

“OH! You’re awake!!” the physician exclaimed with a fair amount of surprise in his voice. He had truly expected his patient to be at least semi-unconscious for several more days.

“Yes, I’m awake” the young man stated “and I’ve never felt better! Where am I’m? How long have I been here? The last thing I remember was being in such terrible pain,” he referred to his leg, “that I must have passed out”.

“Oh, you’ve been here… overnight”. The physician got up and went over to the young man, probing the wound through the bandages. He looked up expecting to see the young man reeling in fits of pain, but the young man simply looked back at him.

Just then, the young man’s brothers burst into the small room from the street. The outspoken one exclaimed in excited tones and gestures, “Our youngest brother here” pointing to a boy of about 11 years of age, “he has dreams that often come true! This morning he awakened us all with shouts about a dream he had that our brother was fully cured!! So, how about it?” the brother asked looking at his brother on the examining table, who as now sitting fully upright. “It is morning now, and you said we would examine the wound…”

“Yes, alright, but we must be cautious. These things sometimes can appear much differently than they really are…“ The physician was confused and greatly concerned for his reputation should he undress the wound and bits of fly were still present and visible where he had applied the tainted ointment. He swallowed hard as he began to unwrap the bandage.

Finally the last portion of the bandage was removed. The physician could not believe his eyes. He blinked, considering that it was a trick of light the morning sun was playing on them from hitting them squarely as it shone in through the window when he awoke.

There was not a trace of the ointment left on the young man’s leg. Nor was there any trace of infection, OR wound, OR even a scar suggesting that a wound had ever been present! Upon seeing this miraculous thing the brothers, especially the youngest one, all let out a whoop for joy and jumped and danced around the room! And then their brother jumped down from the examining table and also danced around the room with them, as if he had never been injured.

The physician, even as intelligent and wise as he was, just stood there with a puzzled look on his face, scratching his head, unable to comprehend what had just happened here.

And to this day, only one person ever figured out that in actuality there were healing constituents which were present in the fly itself which produced such miraculous results.

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