“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” -Theodore Hesburgh
Saturday marked the 28th year of my marriage; we celebrated by going to pick up six pounds of honeybees. I have been building their hives for the last month and my husband has been studying bee books. The balance of our talents and how our energy manifests was at one time a continuous source of conflict. Now we each go into projects knowing what we can ask for and are almost always successful at meeting each other’s expectations. It takes him more time to embrace what is so easy for me to start, but he is always the one who brings the staying power and has a wide knowledge base to fall back on when things go wrong, as they inevitably will.
An old friend came over and was teaching us how to get the bees in the hive. He was sharing a story about how one day the bees got into his suit and were stinging him. This is the fear that I try not to give much attention. Having had significant allergic response to yellow jackets would have made most people leery of bringing thousands of bees home, but after seeing the beautiful Queen of the Sun, I was inspired to not let fear lead me. When I asked him how the bees got into his suit, feeling so confident in my own new attire, he said with a laugh, “It is an imperfect world.”
Certainly, 28 years of learning to love someone and having a bunch of kids will teach you daily about the imperfect nature of the world. It also will show you how amazingly beautiful the world is and how much goodness is always around us. It is all in how you look and maybe more importantly what you are looking for.
The bees found their new home easily, and just in time before the rain started. Now we wait to see if the queen will do her magic. Queen bees lay more than their own body weight in eggs every day. Mind boggling, how a tiny number of bees can become a colony of 50,000 or more in a matter of months.
Equally remarkable and inspiring is how the bees sacrifice their individual identity and life for the good of the whole. They are one of few super organisms in life that survive as a whole. A little bee going off to collect pollen will die if it doesn’t find its way home. It can’t live alone. Common pesticides act like nerve gas on honey bee neurology and they lose their memory. Whole colonies of tens of thousands of bees collapse because the bees can’t find their way back home, which is their source of life. Living in a complex family structure requires a little of the super organism thinking to rub off on you. The mythology of the individual rights and needs as the leader cannot be the reigning policy when your goal is family harmony.
Giving yourself over to the needs of the other, or even the many others, can have a surprising effect of actually meeting your own needs in ways that only worrying about your own needs will not. The relationships you prioritize have a life and intelligence of its own. When you can trust the relationship to give, you can learn to be a real receiver. Letting go and listening are the two primary paths that teach you the gift of surrendering to how things are. I am deeply and profoundly grateful for the super organism that is family. Even if I am not always the queen bee, there is a noble existence in all the hive roles- worker bees, nursery bees, foraging bees… it all adds up to a life way bigger and more fulfilling than oneself.