“We got to talking about the beauty of this world of God’s, and about its great mystery. For each blade of grass, each little bug, ant, golden bee, knows its way amazingly; being without reason, they witness to the divine mystery, they ceaselessly enact it.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Some of the most beautiful things worth having in your life come wrapped in a crown of thorns.”
― Shannon L. Alder
As I was taking a walk a few weeks ago by the lake, I happened on this lonely thistle topped with an equally lonely, but busily plundering bumblebee.
I sat down next to it for a time and thought about the stark contrast between the delicate beauty of the soft lavender flowers and the harsh texture of the green leafy tower that seemed to be guarding those blooms with a fearsome array of thorns.
My mind wandered off to Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28:10-17. I thought about how our ascent into the Kingdom of God is littered with hard and painful thorns, and how much God’s descent into our world is littered with hard and painful thorns.
But then I looked at the bee. She was seemingly oblivious to the threatening swords encircling those blooms! Then I thought of how God, in His mercy, on occasion gives us sweet consolations in prayer that make us soar carefree above life’s tangled thickets, allowing us to drink deeply of the nectar of the Kingdom and so be fortified when He returns us again to our thistled Ladder.
It never ceases to amaze me how nature speaks. The Orthodox tradition even has prayers for bees. I can’t help myself:
O Almighty and Pre-eternal God: You hold all creation in the palm of your hands; You possess the heavens, the earth and all that is them; You compassionately grant unto all created things that which is beneficial for them. With compunction, we pray to You, O all-good One: As in ancient times You granted the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, and as you were well-pleased to nourish Your baptizer John in the wilderness with wild honey, so now by Your good pleasure and caring for our sustenance, bless the beehives in their apiary, greatly increase the number of bees in them, preserve them by Your grace, and fill us rich with honey. Let none of these beehives which You have fashioned be deprived of bees, but let them always be filled with honeycombs of honey. And according to Your great benefits and invincible might, let them be shown undefeated by evils and unshaken by curses. Rather, fenced round about by Your all-powerful might and defended by your armed host, let them always remain unharmed and in Your grasp, O Christ. For Yours it is to be merciful and to save us, O Christ our God, and unto You do we send up glory, honor and worship, together with Your Father and Holy Spirit. Amen.