Unexpected gift

Sometimes life hands you an unexpected gift. When it does, you may not recognize it as such at the beginning. You might even wonder if it is a gift.

Miraculously I was handed such a gift in the summer of 2017. Hanging out at the Farm where my bees are kept, it was the end of another very long day with our young farm interns. A young man showed up who clearly knew Lorenzo, the farmer. They greeted one another warmly, exchanged conversation, then Lorenzo beckoned me over.

He introduced me to Aidan, a young student at Amy Biehl High School—a charter school whose focus is based upon community service. Below is a short bio of this remarkable young woman’s life. Students at this school model their lives after her selfless service.

Amy Elizabeth Biehl (April 26, 1967 – August 25, 1993) was a white American graduate of Stanford University and an Anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa who was murdered by black Cape Town residents while a black mob shouted anti-white slurs. The four men convicted of her murder were released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (Wikipedia)

Aidan wanted to do his senior project on bees and beekeeping. Lorenzo wondered whether I would be a bee mentor.

And so, we embarked upon a year together in the beeyard. At first, I may have been cautious to take on another student, wondering if I would have enough time and energy after the summer. But over time, it became clear that the payoffs outweighed any cons.

Aidan is smart, respectful, curious, and has made work in the beeyard so much easier and more fun for my 55 year old body! He began by doing what a good Buddhist teacher would call “Chop wood, carry water”. An apprentice to any practice or discipline must first do the hard work of keeping the fires going, food cooked, plates cleaned. Mastering the basics is a good foundation for grounding one’s higher aspirations of a spiritual path.

Knowledge acquisition, as in any spiritual path must be balanced with physical practice, or it just becomes a head trip. Aidan knows this well. He loves hands-on projects and excelled quickly in anything that would keep him engaged in the hive—from starting the smoker, to examining bars of comb, looking for the queen, feeding bees, cleaning hives, burning old diseased comb, carrying tools. He did it all.

For his final senior project, he chronicled his year of beekeeping…

Thank you Aidan, for a most excellent year of learning and bee support. Good luck on your way to New Mexico Tech and all the best in your endeavors. The world is awaiting your creative, intelligent, thoughtful and conscientious leadership.

You have learned to think like a bee, my friend. I will miss you in the beeyard.

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