A HELPFUL MONKEY

Editor’s Note: Following is a page from my spiritual journal.

My office window shades slanted against the bright afternoon sun. Overhead a ceiling fan whirled. Every so often, the A/C blew cooled air into July’s continually warming house. I sat at my computer reading and responding to email.


My slanted blinds.

My laptop reported the date was 7/08/2020 and my calendar showed Wednesday. That day a church I attend in Goshen, Indiana sent its Mid-week Bible Study. (In case you don’t know, I have an long-time interest in theology/religion as well as spirituality. As a kid, I attended as many as three Bible different schools during summer vacation!

As an adult, my childhood interest finds expression in attending Bible study and prayer groups. Pastoral homilies, sermons and Sunday School talks are all potentially interesting. I opened the email.

This week the presenter was a retired pastor I knew distantly. I clicked on the video presentation and glanced down at the minute counter. Seven and a half minutes – not too long. Using my mouse, I touched the video arrow and the man began to speak.

Sporting a white beard and mustache, retired Pastor Richard Kauffman wore a pumpkin-colored sport shirt. He folded his hands as he began reviewing some research he had read on stress. Not Biblical, his story about monkeys caught my interest. Where is this going?

Pastor Richard’s manner was that of a teacher. I felt like a student as I reached for a ballpoint and piece of paper and made notes.

A family sytems expert and reseacher named Peter Steinke did a stress-hormone test on a pair of monkeys. (He recounted it in his book, Calm Leadership in Anxious Times.) The first caged monkey was subjected to bright flashing lights and loud strident music. After fifteen minutes, the creature’s blood was drawn and checked for stress hormones. They were sky-high!

I nodded at the screen. Mine would be, too!

A second study on another day repeated the first test with one exception. A second monkey was put in the cage with the first. Both were subjected to loud edgy music and again, flashing bright lights. After fifteen minutes, the first poor animal’s blood was taken.

Again its stress hormone level was measured. That time the stress hormones were less than half the first day when the animal was caged alone. The only difference was the presence of the second monkey.

Roughly quoting the family systems expert, Pastor Richard said we mammals are made for companionship. Presence of another can provide a stressed creature comfort, consolation and aid.

I thought of the angst many friends and family are enduring during this COVID 19 crisis. My mind turned to loved ones I miss and some who are alone in their homes, isolating. A few people came to mind who are also emotionally estranged from family and/ or their household. Several comrades recently lost a family member and were grieving. They need a monkey!

Husband JK is my “monkey.” He doesn’t say much and offers no solution for the necessary isolation. But he is present.

I pictured people like me whose family and friends are scattered. I am blessed to have JK! I rested my hands on the keyboard a minute while the overhead fan whirled. Might I be a “monkey” for someone I care about who is distant? Maybe.

This story, the note accompanying this issue and the “gift” inside these pages are my effort to – God willing – be your monkey!

( Let this monkey represent me.)
Frances Fritzie

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