When bees swarmed into my Saturday morning meditation, I noted persistent bee thoughts and later scouted the Internet to understand Bee as a symbol. As I collected information about Bee symbolism through recorded time, I also noted the swell of self-importance. Wow, bees chose me! How ego strives to be special! Then I was stung by the realization that ego is not Bee’s message.
Sure, I loved learning that the bee is symbolic of feminine energy, that its honeycomb, a hexagon, is the symbol of the heart and represents the sweetness of life found within one’s own heart, but even more important is the communal nature of bees – they serve the interconnected world. It was a reminder I needed.
On Easter Sunday I was scheduled to be part of the worship service, to speak to the congregation about renewing and increasing its financial support. I had been struggling to be wholehearted, wondering if I could urge others to contribute without being a hypocrite. I had made no secret of my personal disappointment with almost everything to almost everybody in the church. Could I honestly ask anybody else to support the church when I had been ambivalent about renewing let alone increasing my own contribution?
Remembering how I had moved from self-admiration after learning about bee symbols to a sense of responsibility to the community, I decided to expand my limited perspective. I needed a wider notion of church. I chose to consult the minister, a man toward whom I once felt great animosity. I professed my doubt about the church as a continuing place of meaning to me. I said I doubted I could make an honest request of the congregation. And I hoped he would show me how to see church membership from a more spacious perspective than I currently held. He did help. He spoke of the greater good. This liberal religious community has value for all to come in the future as it had for all who had come before in the 162 years of its history. I could accept the responsibility of serving this larger community. I could speak to the congregation wholeheartedly. It felt like finding gold.
I imagined how important church is for children and their parents, for newcomers anxious for connection, for the homeless men fed and cared for in the Winter Shelter, and many more. I remembered my own eagerness to join this church ten years ago even as it was undergoing an upheaval of ministerial staff similar to the one through which we have been going. I was able to discover the beauty and value of the church for myself. But what if every disillusioned member at that time was withdrawing or downsizing their financial support? The result might have been no non-creedal church for me to join when I was most wanting to belong to this liberal religious community.
I am grateful for my past ten years in this congregation and for its support of my spiritual journey. I am grateful for a widening perspective that lets me see the common humanity in those toward whom I once felt animosity. And I am grateful for meditation and to the bees who visited me during one of my sits. Bees are communal creatures after all, and if I am to be a queen bee, my responsibility to others is bedazzling.