It was halfway through summer that I discovered the beehive. Buzzing with life, filled with honey, it was a thing of beauty to me, city girl, to find this magical, self-sustained world of wonder right at my doorstep.
The hive was inside the electricity box at the front gate. Bees in a box. A place I hadn’t expected to see them. The honey cakes inside were so large that the door of the box couldn’t close anymore, hundreds of bees coming and going as they pleased. Every evening as I turned in at the gate, my eyes would first flit to the left, to check on the magical world inside the box. I felt blessed by the presence of the bees.
And now they are all gone. The metropolitan council didn’t relocate them; they simply fumigated them. All the golden splendor of the busy bees lying in a gray heap on the unforgiving earth, even the honey they had poured their life into, poisoned. I stand in front of the bee grave, mute with horror and anger. Ashamed to be part of a creation that harbors such thoughtless cruelty. And emptied out by a deep, wrenching sense of loss.
Shortly after, I round the corner onto our regional road and notice that something is different. It is too open, too bare. The enormous eucalyptus trees growing there are gone. As if ripped out, root and all, by a giant hand. It is a construction site now, boards already proclaiming that some new building is soon to be erected there. The same grayness I found at the bee grave colors everything here. I cry for the trees as I cried for the bees. It matters little to me that eucalyptus trees are considered alien invaders in South Africa. They are LIFE. Breath. And now they are to be replaced by cold, lifeless concrete.
The loss is everywhere. It permeates everything, its weight so crushing that I can hardly breathe.
The only loss I’d welcome in my life – on the scale – stays away, conversely (and perversely) turns into gain, as if my body senses the wrenching emptiness in my spirit and tries to compensate for it. It gives me pause. And I realize I cannot afford to be so overwhelmed by the devastation. All things in nature seek balance, water flowing to the lowest point, high pressure flowing to low pressure, apples succumbing to gravity and falling to the ground.
If right now I’m unbalanced when it comes to my awareness of loss and gain, then I am a low pressure system. It fits with the emptiness I feel inside. I’m a storm, waiting to happen.
When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation. ~ Matthew 12:43-45
Do I want to be this sucking abyss, inviting in gains I do not want or need, all because I am at a loss? No, please no! I do not want to gain weight, I do not want to gain damaging coping mechanisms, or new pressure in different forms.
There is only one thing to do: Change the perspective around, view life from the other side of the glass. See the gains, the reasons for gratitude.
A little desperately at first I search for the gains. I am healthy, really as healthy as a horse. Not a twitchy Thoroughbred but a sturdy Clydesdale, able to pull the weight. I have an income. Not much but oh, so much more than many on this planet. I may have to count my pennies, but I don’t lack for anything. I have the blessing of treasured friends, being part of a human tribe, people who understand me, who care about me, as much as I understand them and care about them.
I see sunlight through leaves and fingers and find the wonder in that, light shining through everything. I know not all people have this ability.
I realize that seeing the light play through the shadow is a gift beyond measure. And it might be so oft-repeated as to be a cliché by now, but it stands true: light does not lift out shape without the presence of shadow as well. You need both to see life fully, to find the dimensions, the shapes, the essence of things.
Perhaps it is that way with loss as well. Flying would not be possible if there were no gravity to fight against. Gain would not be an asset if loss did not balance it out. The way the trees need to shed their leaves in the fall if they want to experience renewed vigor in the spring.
Even if the loss of the bees makes no good sense to me, it is still contained within the greater balance of life. They did not go unnoticed. They gave at least one person and thousand of flowers IMMENSE joy! This evening I will place a tealight on the electricity-box-turned-hive-turned-grave. To thank God for the brief joy they brought me, the light they poured into my world like honey. And I will GIVE. I will give away light and joy the way the bees did. I will give away breath the way the trees did. I will reconnect with friends, listen to their tales, help bear their burdens. I will transform the brief joy of the bees and the breath of the trees into more joy, short-lived and transient as it may be.
Because ultimately, this entire stay on Earth is transient. There is nothing, no one, we can cling to. Everything comes, everyone goes. The only constant is Him who has already left this Earth in order to become a stable presence in our lives, Spirit connected to spirit. Always near. Always on call.
That is what ‘Comforter’ in Greek means. Parakletos. Near on call.
And so that leaves me with only this one road in front of me: Celebrate the transient with the gratitude born from knowing it never lasts … gratitude must come NOW … but focus on the permanent, the spiritual. The essence.
In the end, it is not about loss or gain. It is about transience and essence. It is simply about accepting the transience of this life, and realizing it offers a counterpoint to that which remains: our very essence.
May your essence be filled with light and joy. And may you spread it around, trailing it wherever you go, releasing it to briefly shine and glitter and delight. May your light, like the bees in the box, bring a smile to someone else’s face. May your touch, like the breath of the trees, lift someone’s spirit. And may that spark of joy you give, as it fizzles away, make space for more light to be created out of what remains standing: YOU.
I remain standing, this essence of me, connected to the essence of Him. I AM.
And all is well. It is all good.