I saw a sign

In this Church House Blog, a walk along a canal towpath for communications officer, Stephen Freeman, leaves him with a painful memory and a lesson in how to see things from other people's perspective.

27 August 2020

By Stephen Freeman, Design and Communications Officer


I was out for a walk yesterday along a canal and saw a small sign, measuring about 3 inches high, pinned to the ground. As I bent down to read it, I felt a sharp stinging pain on the back of my leg. It was a wasp and though my reflexes were quick to brush it off, the wasp had already done its worst. The sign read "WASP NEST".

During the walk back home, in-between the itchings, the scratchings and the various other ings, I got to wondering how that sign came to be there. My initial reaction was to be annoyed at the person that took it upon him/herself to place it. After all, if it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have stopped at that spot, which in turn led to me being stung.

When I woke this morning my views towards the sign-poster had begun to change. I thought about how the sign possibly helped others with better eyesight than mine to avoid the nest and how the poster had gone to considerable trouble to make the sign – not a bad piece of artisan craftsmanship at all. They had also risked their own safety by positioning the sign just inches away from the entrance to the nest. All this was done to help others.

Whilst I had suffered the misfortune of being stung, it’s quite possible that several others were spared the same fate because of the sign-maker’s helpful actions. Maybe there was a greater good in play here. I got a little hurt, but others didn’t. My initial reaction was to be frustrated at the sign-poster, but on reflection, that was just because I was thinking only of myself and not seeing the bigger picture.

There are seldom any solutions to problems that everyone agrees with, but sometimes those solutions might actually be good for everyone as a whole, even if, as individuals we can’t actually see it.

I am now of the view that nothing but good came out of that sign. It probably stopped several families with young children getting too close and I came out of it with a tale, albeit, with a sting in it.

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