…that sometimes two parallel worlds that we live in converge, collide, intersect or dove- tail nicely. That happened to me with the coming together of my work in the beeyard and the writing of my newly released book entitled, “Soul Tending: Journey into the Heart of Sabbath”.
I keep bees on the fly, blog by night, write whenever I have the chance, work as a chaplain during the week. Rarely have the twain come together. Until Soul Tending.
I was given an amazing opportunity to live and write at Collegeville Institute for almost 4 months in 2016. I originally went there to write my “bee book”. I ended up completing an old manuscript on Sabbath Keeping. It just so happens that the campus of St. Johns College and the Benedictine Monastery next door were rife with bee symbols and real hives. I deepened into the myths and stories associated with bees. Resurrection. Healing. Community as the Hive Mind.
I felt the bees with me, though I was far, far away from my beeyards. They wove their wisdom and the secret life of the hive into my manuscript. Even as they lay dormant, bees were my muse and teachers as I explored ‘Sabbath Mind’ in the frigid, white north of Minnesota.
Sabbath mind cleaves to simplicity. It hungers for it and seeks a simpler life, as a pearl of great price…We must loosen our grip on the daily diet of frantic overwhelm that we have come to think of as normal in our society. We must simplify our mind and life. (Soul Tending: Journey into the Heart of Sabbath, 11)
Bees are single minded. Though they are complex super organisms, they work in one accord. Though they vibrate individually at an alarming speed, when they work together in the hive, they are focused, slow, methodical, with a constant, quiet hum. Their common task is almost imperceptible until suddenly hangs a shining, luminous, white comb.
Here’s what I wrote about the bees and the slow heartbeat of the natural world in the chapter entitled, “Creation as Sabbath Companion: Divine Presence Everywhere”…
Sabbath keeping is like that bee space… a space that required me to learn with a beginners mind. The bee space became an oasis of reciprocity, of the generosity of the creaturely world, so easily missed in a society moving at breakneck speed. When I truly wanted or needed to enter Sabbath mind, I could go into the hive. If I entered slowly, with contemplative mindfulness, following the procedures that honor one’s coming—sending a smoke signal, moving slowly, not harming or squashing their sisters(yes, all the worker bees are female)…doing one’s business quickly and with increasing skill—I was allowed entry unharmed…when I was rushed, anxious, uncertain, and did not take the time to follow the guidelines that honored my bees, they mirrored back to me my own interior landscape—with less than pleasant consequences…they drew me into Sabbath time. Slowing me down… (Soul Tending, Journey Into the Heart of Sabbath, 37)
Thank you Collegeville, for allowing me to bring my worlds together!
I have yet to write that bee book…