October 10, 2021
To Be A Bee
I went to bed very late Friday night after thinking of different ways to introduce the story that I wanted to share today. I even said to Dan, “I’m going to bed and letting God put on my heart what I need to say.”
Well, it happened, but not exactly as I thought it would. I woke up yesterday morning not sure if I should laugh or be concerned. It is common for me to remember my dreams, but the one yesterday was especially full of details. In my dream I was going to give the message to a packed congregation. There were so many people in the sanctuary that I was literally walking over people and had to walk on a stone ledge to get to the pulpit. When I got to the pulpit my message was not on the pulpit stand and neither was the microphone. Matt Yates stepped forward (thank you Matt) with what I thought was going to be a microphone. Instead he handed Dan a note. Dan reads the note and gets this huge smile and he starts taking off his shirt while running down the center aisle..and then begins shaving his back. He was fulfilling the bet that if the church raised $2,000 for the Youth Mission Trip he would shave his back. No bell tower sleeping for Dan… just hand him a razor.
While Dan was still gleefully fulfilling his obligation a couple of young women in the church started coming forward with their children wanting to share their concerns about women’s rights. I asked them if they could wait for Pastor Luke to return from his vacation so he could moderate that discussion. They nodded that they would wait and returned to their pews.
Again, I try to step up to the pulpit to give a message. Since there was no microphone, Matt asked me to move out into the Sanctuary so I could be better heard. As I did this I realized that I was in a very large plaza like you would see in Italy. A blue tour bus pulls right up and passengers get off as others get on all while carnival music is playing….. not Carnival like in Brazil…. but carnival like in do doodle do do do.
While the passengers are getting on the bus the local bells start ringing and a stone masterpiece in the center of the plaza opens up like a cuckoo clock door and out comes a fairly large statue of the Virgin Mary. On the 12th chime God delivered to me what I needed to share to wrap up our series on grief. The message was that we need to see that we are a community. That the center of that word is commune which is also the center to the word communion and that when we work together in community we are one with God.
That leads me right to what I was already prepared to share with you. I recently read this story and felt it was related to how we function as a community during grief. The story has been shared so many times that the actual author is not listed. This story is told from the author’s perspective.
My dad has bees.
Today I went to his house and he showed me all of the honey he had gotten from the hives. He took the lid off of a 5 gallon bucket full of honey and on top of the honey there were 3 little bees, struggling. They were covered in sticky honey and drowning. I asked him if we could help them and he said he was sure they wouldn’t survive. Casualties of honey collection I suppose.
I asked him again if we could at least get them out and kill them quickly, after all he was the one who taught me to put a suffering animal (or bug) out of its misery. He finally conceded and scooped the bees out of the bucket. He put them in an empty Chobani yogurt container and put the plastic container outside.
Because he had disrupted the hive with the earlier honey collection, there were bees flying all over outside.
We put the 3 little bees in the container on a bench and left them to their fate. My dad called me out a little while later to show me what was happening.
These three little bees were surrounded by all of their sisters (all of the worker bees are females) and they were cleaning the sticky nearly dead bees, helping them to get all of the honey off of their bodies.
We came back a short time later and there was only one little bee left in the container. She was still being tended to by her sisters.
When it was time for me to leave we checked one last time and all three of the bees had been cleaned off enough to fly away and the container was empty.
Those three little bees lived because they were surrounded by family and friends who would not give up on them, family and friends who refused to let them drown in their own stickiness and resolved to help until the last little bee could be set free.
We could all learn a thing or two from these bees.
I have taught preschoolers about bees since the mid 70’s…hence still owning this 1973 book called Honeybees. It is fascinating to learn how smoothly all of the bees work together in their community.
In the world of worker bees, there are many jobs that the bees cycle through. They do not all do the same job at the same time nor do they all do the same job forever.
There is the nurse and house bee. Her job is to clean the brood comb cell to prepare it for the next egg laying by the Queen. The nurse bee also will feed the brood.
The Undertaker worker bee is the one who removes any dead bees from the hive. Bee’s hives are kept meticulous because of the work of this bee.
The Architect is the bee that uses her wax secretions to build the hives and resin trees to repair the hives.
The Queen’s Attendants tends to the needs of only the Queen Bee
The Cleaners/Organizers/Honey Makers are the bees that care for all of the other bees’ needs: Keeping the cells clean and collecting the pollen and nectar from other bees.
The Forager Bees are the ones who leave the hive to find the pollen and nectar. They can do this safely as they now have the ability to sting if necessary.
The Guard Bee is an adult bee also capable of stinging. It’s job is to simply only let honey bees into the hive.
The Queen and the Drones have one purpose and that is to continue populating bees.
Each job is vital to the beehive community. Yes, the Queen Bee holds a bit more power and YET even she knows when it is time to split the hive, starting a new hive and allowing another Queen Bee to take over.
Our own families including church families, neighborhood families, work families, and friend families can function like bees, especially in the time of helping our community members during periods of grief.
Let’s not limit our community outreach to only those experiencing grief from the death of a loved one, but let us consider the opportunity to be in community with those who are grieving from the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, the loss of food security, the loss of mobility, the loss of a home, the loss of financial security, the loss of health, the loss of friendships, the loss of family, and even the loss of faith.
As a community we can help those who are experiencing grief by becoming a human worker bee and taking action.
Remember, we will not and cannot all have the same job. The hive requires that there be different jobs. We may not even have that same job the rest of our lives.
Some of us will have the job of being the food provider like we do for our food insecure Garfield families,
the driver when someone needs a ride to church, the store, or another appt.,
this listener when someone is hurting,
the greeting card sender to let the griever know they are cared for,
the financier who can provide financial support,
the pray-er who lifts the needs of the community up in prayer,
or the builder who often has the hard work of helping a person reconstruct their life in the midst of grief.
No one job is more important than the other; they are all needed. And remember, we may be one of these human worker bees in our youth, and another one is our midlife years, and yet another one as we live our own lives as seniors.
So when you hear of or see a person in need… in whatever community you are in, remember to think about what YOU can do in that community to help it be united as one with God in giving care to the person in grief. Then take action and Be a Bee.