When I stand at the window watching the flickers, sparrows, finches, chickadees, and red-winged blackbirds come and go from the feeders, I wonder who is watching who. They remain wary of me, fluttering away quickly if I approach with lens in hand. They fear capture, even within a camera. They have a life to be lived without my witness or participation. So much happens that I never see or know about.
I understand: I fear being captured too.
Even if only for a moment as an image preserved forever, I know it doesn’t represent all I am, all I’ve done, all I feel, all my moments put together. The birds are, and I am, so much more than one moment.
Only God sees us fully in every moment, witness to our freedom and captivity, our loneliness and grief, our joy and tears, knowing our best and our worst.
And because He knows us so well, in Him we must trust.
“Bees do have a smell, you know,
and if they don’t they should,
for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
I admire the honey bee as pollinator and pollen gatherer simultaneously, facilitating new fruit from the blossom as well as taking away that which will become sweet honey tasting of the spicy essence of the flower touched.
As a physician, I can only hope to be as transformative in the work I do every day. I carry with me tens of thousands of patients I’ve seen over thirty five years of medical practice. There is no way I can touch another human being without keeping some small part of them with me – perhaps a memory of an open wound or the residual scar it left behind, a word of sorrow or gratitude, a grimace, a tear or a smile.
Each patient is a flower visited, some still in bud, some in full bloom, some seed pods ready to burst, some spent and wilting and ready to fall away. Each patient carries a spicy vitality, even in their illness and dying, that is unforgettable and still clings to me. Each patient changes me, the doctor, readying me for the next patient by teaching me a gentler approach, a clearer explanation, a slower leave-taking. Each patient becomes part of my story, adding to my skill as a healer, and is never to be forgotten.
It has been my privilege to be thoroughly dusted by those I’ve loved and cared for. I want to carry that on to create something wonderful that reflects the spice of living.
Suddenly a bee, big as a blackberry, bumbles against my window, knocking for attention. Rolling in azalea cups all morning, she weaves in slow motion then hovers like a helicopter, humming to herself. The key, C major. No black notes, no sharps, no flats. Only naturals—the fan of her own wings, the bliss of her own buzz.
She doesn’t practice. She doesn’t have to. She knows. To make honey, you follow the dance.
~Alice Friman from “The Key”
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom. ~Li-Young Lee from “From Blossoms”
These are impossible spring days of color and cool breezes.
A sense of immortality extends across the sky as far as the eye can see.
Impossibly impossible — because I know they won’t last;
this precious time is ephemeral.
Still I revel in it,
moving from joy to joy to joy,
winging like a bee’s buzz singing right on key,
from blossom to blossom,
hovering and settling briefly
and let down gently,
oh so gently,
into the promise
spring someday will last forever.
Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
from 1Corinthians 15
We are continually overflowing toward those who preceded us, toward our origin, and toward those who seemingly come after us. It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again invisibly, inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.
~Rainer Maria Rilke from The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
A thing of beauty outside
harbors danger and threat inside.
I can’t touch this tissue paper football nest
with its beating buzzing hornet hearts
yet the dwellers inside allow me
to admire their craftsmanship.In a few short weeks, as they sleep,
the north winds will tear it free from its tight hold,
bear it aloft in its lightness of being,
and it will fall, crushed, broken,
its secret heart revealed
and all that stings will be let go.
A swarm of honey bees appeared yesterday on our old walnut tree (the front yard tree house tree) and by dusk, a local bee keeper I had called came to box up the majority of them to take home to a new hive. There are still a few left this morning (see below) which she plans to return to fetch this morning.
A bee swarm becomes an amazing single-minded organism of thousands of individuals intent on one purpose: survival of the queen to establish a new home for her safety and security, thus ensuring survival for all. I am grateful they stopped off here at this farm for a bit of a respite, and wish them well under the nurture of a gentle apiarist who, for forty years, has loved, respected and honored bees by working for their well-being.
A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.
-An Old English Ditty
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
~William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree
Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.
If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have–by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter,
All hail the queen!
~E.B. White from “Song of the Queen Bee” published in the New Yorker 1945
One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees… ~Leo Tolstoy
The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams. ~Henry David Thoreau
…The world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.
Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you.
Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t swat. Don’t even think about swatting.
If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.
Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved. ~Sue Monk Kidd
Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them. “If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am! ~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit
When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day. -Congo Proverb