We Stand at a Crossroads

Yesterday I could feel the tide of collective societal anxiety rising as we inch closer to November 8. I became lonely for bees. The bee hive has been a place of solace for me, contemplative peace and that which is life affirming. So I went looking on a 70 degree F day in Minnesota. I heard that the monks kept bees near their graveyard. On my way,  I roamed first through their hoop house and garden spot full of squashes and pumpkins.

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Hoophouse at St. Johns Abbey, MN

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Then through their cemetery overlooking Lake Sagatan

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Graveyard for the monks at St. Johns Abbey, MN

I finally came to the now leafless orchard.

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Fruit trees by the monk’s cemetary

And there I sat with the bees for a time. They were sluggish. But they were still flying.

 

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The girls

One bee in particular caught my eye. It was one persistent little girl who was intent on kicking out a drone, the male bee. First she threw him out. Then when he, in all his bug eyed, swaggering girth, pushed past her, she followed him inside. Soon he came back out. She was riding him this time. Attached to his back, she refused to let go. He had to walk around dragging her tiny body.

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It is not unlike the epic struggle we face on so many levels in our culture, our world, this very moment.

The one that most catches my heart and my eyes and ears these days is Standing Rock, North Dakota. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there, seen what is happening, continue to keep my ear to the ground…

In a vast windswept, seemingly empty land, with rivers running through it, thousands of people are fastened and embedded on Mother Earth, with tents, their two feet and love of the sacred waters.

It is not so different from that one little bee. These at Standing Rock are attached to the backs of the profit makers and greed mongers, judicial  injustice and militarized state who are desperate to clear them. They are desperate for DAPL to finish on time for the  magnificent billions to pour into their investor’s coffers.

The people are hanging on for dear life. Determined. Dignified. Peaceful.

The following is from an article in YES! Magazine, Nov. 5, 2016. If you are weary of the destruction of all that we know is life affirming, keep your prayer lights burning. It makes a difference.

Here, on a highway stretching across trampled prairie grass, the fundamental contest of our time is playing out.

It’s a confrontation not only between two groups of people, but between two world views. The space between the lines vibrates with tensions of race, historical trauma, broken treaties, money and politics, love and fear. But the underlying issue that charges the air, mixing with the smells of tear gas and sage, is the global contest between two deeply different ideas about the true meaning of land.

On one side is the unquestioned assumption that land is merely a warehouse of lifeless materials that have been given to (some of) us by God or conquest, to use without constraint. On this view, human happiness is best served by whatever economy most efficiently transforms water, soils, minerals, wild lives, and human yearning into corporate wealth. And so it is possible to love the bottom line on a quarterly report so fiercely that you will call out the National Guard to protect it.

On the other side of the concrete barriers is a story that is so ancient it seems revolutionary.  On this view, the land is a great and nourishing gift to all beings. The fertile soil, the fresh water, the clear air, the creatures, swift or rooted: they require gratitude and veneration. These gifts are not commodities, like scrap iron and sneakers. The land is sacred, a living breathing entity, for whom we must care, as she cares for us. And so it is possible to love land and water so fiercely you will live in a tent in a North Dakota winter to protect them.

So be it.

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