From the Pastor May/June

I’ve taken on a new project: beekeeping. I’ve purchased the materials, assembled the hive, watched how-to videos, sought advice from other beekeepers, sat down with a friend who went over the basics with me, and now I’m waiting for the arrival of the bees.


My interest in beekeeping is manifold, a mix of narrow self-interest and altruism. It sounds like a nice combination of new but manageable information, it benefits the wider world (the world needs more bees), it will help our garden and our neighbors’ gardens, and, down the road, it will lead to honey.


I had many questions when I sat down with my friend to learn the basics. He walked me through different types of hives, the equipment I would need, how much time I would need, and various issues that might arise. We walked to the community garden across the alley behind our house and picked out a good spot for the hive. I only had one more question, “How do I not get stung?”


“Oh,” he said, with a laugh, “you are going to get stung. You can’t do this without getting stung, If you want to do this, you need to make your peace with getting stung.”


Not the answer I was looking for, and yet isn’t that the way it goes: we want honey, we gotta get stung. There is no honey without someone, somewhere, getting stung.


I’m reminded of the poem “Kissing and Horrid Strife” by D.H. Lawrence:


I have been defeated and dragged down by pain

and worsted by the evil world-soul of today.


But still I know that life is for delight

and for bliss

as now when the tiny wavelets of the sea

tip the morning light on edge, and spill it with delight

to show how inexhaustible it is:


And life is for delight, and bliss

like now when the white sun kisses the sea

and plays with the wavelets like a panther playing with its cubs

cuffing them with soft paws,

and blows that are caresses,

kisses of the soft-balled paws, where the talons are.


And life is for dread,

for doom that darkens, and the Sunderers

that sunder us from each other,

that strip us and destroy us and break us down

as the tall foxgloves and the mulleins and mallows

are torn down by dismembering autumn

till not a vestige is left, and black winter has no trace

of any such flowers;

and yet the roots below the blackness are intact:

the Thunderers and the Sunderers have their term,

their limit, their thus far and no further.


Life is for kissing and for horrid strife.

Life is for the angels and the Sunderers.

Life is for the daimons and the demons,

those that put honey on our lips, and those that put salt.

But life is not

for the dead vanity of knowing better, nor the blank

cold comfort of superiority, nor silly

conceit of being immune,

nor puerility of contradictions

like saying snow is black, or desire is evil.


Life is for kissing and for horrid strife,

the angels and the Sunderers.

And perhaps in unknown Death we perhaps shall know

Oneness and poised immunity.

But why then should we die while we can live ?

And while we live

the kissing and communing cannot cease

nor yet the striving and the horrid strife.

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