This past Sunday, we were supposed to install three, new queen bees into the hive boxes at the far edge of the meadow. Volunteers were standing at the ready to help, my oldest daughter agreed to provide the video documentation, Gene (our beekeeper) had the protective beekeeper suits at the ready. The weather, however, didn’t cooperate. The bees are from the warm, southern state of Georgia, and Gene said he couldn’t bear the thought of putting them in the cold wooden supers. We waited until the warm weather of Monday before installing them in their new homes. Gene keeps reminding me that the bees aren’t “pets;” I find I keep forgetting. Just a few minutes ago, I walked across the uneven grass of the meadow in front of the historic home, stopping to briefly admire the tiny purple wild violets, then stopping to stand in front of the buzzing activity of the pastel boxes. I watched as the bees gathered and moved in small energetic waves in the openings. Their movements feel mysterious to me, unknowable.
Last month, one solitary bee found its way into the far corner of my office. I watched and listened as it bumped and bumbled blindly in the corner near the ceiling. This dark corner is a long way from the bright sunshine of the meadow, and for a few minutes, I worried about what to do next. I advised my visiting guest to ignore it. Don’t pay attention, I tell her, it won’t hurt you or me. We kept talking, uninterruptedly. The tiny bee visitor barely heard, barely seen.
This month we see a time of rare confluence of holy days for three religious traditions: Ramadan–the holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims–during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran; Passover– commemorating the story of the Israelites’ departure from ancient Egypt, when the first-born sons are spared being killed by the Angel of Death where Hebrew doors were marked with lamb’s blood and passed over; and, for Christians, Good Friday marks the time of the crucifixion of Jesus and Easter Sunday for celebrating the belief in the resurrection of Christ.
Did you notice that these religious events were occurring all at the same time this year? Before I started writing this letter to you, I don’t think I really had… I hadn’t been paying attention to how all these stories fit together, somehow. I hadn’t noticed the connections among them. I hadn’t been watching. But now, I am.
In Anne Hillman’s book, Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire the Second Time, she notes that “what contributes to both cultural and personal transformation is a change of mind: becoming willing to see and hear differently” (143). She emphasizes that “no community will change its perceptions until a sufficient number of individuals have done so first.” This, now, is our task, she argues. Together, we are “in the midst of another major transformation of consciousness that requires even greater awareness, and an increased objectivity about our own perceptions” (143).
I am glad our three queen bees are warm in their new homes. I am glad I am learning to see. It’s our task, after all; it’s our hope.