Small Messengers

Bee drinking

Photo by Laura K. Deal

I have a history with bees. The associations are multiple and interconnected, and bees are showing up in my dreams and in waking life.

From running barefoot in the backyard, I had my share of childhood beestings. They hurt like crazy, and then my foot would swell and it would be hard to walk and I’d lie around feeling sorry for myself with baking soda paste covering the sting site. I learned to avoid clover when I was barefoot, and kept a wide berth when around flowers that had attracted bees. My grandmother’s climbing rose prevented me from even venturing to the south side of her house.

So when I had an assignment to write a short story and the story needed something more, my mind pulled in the story that had been in the news of honey bee colonies vanishing (this was around 1999!) and from there, the main character had to overcome her fear of bees. That story became my first published fiction , and writing it made it possible for me to pick up a struggling honey bee and carry it on my palm from the sidewalk to the garden.

Then after my mom died, I was stung on the palm by a bee. I wrote about that a little bit in my Assigning Meaning post, but there was more to it. In addition to showing my palm to my acupuncturist, I ran it past a deeply intuitive friend. Her message was that one day I’d remember that sting and there would be a sweetness to it, just like the bittersweet nature of life. And that I should pay attention to small messengers.

When bees show up in dreams, I pay attention. In a recent one I cut open an apple and a large honey bee slowly lifts off and flies away from inside the apple. I associated it with the fact that I was working (in waking life) on my novel’s synopsis so that I could continue querying agents.

I also pay attention when in waking life, singular honey bees appear and hang out. One surprised me one morning when I pulled back the curtain to see the day and the bee clung to the outside of the window exactly at my eye level. Or the one that came to buzz around me while I was outside today, and reminded me of the lesson I’d written in Silent Meadow, imagined anew: to release the created work with love, not fear. I’ve been sending out queries, and I needed the reminder not to fear the worst, but just to release the book with love, so that like the bee, it can find its own way in the world. It fits with grieving for my mom, too—I’m finally to a place in my emotions where I can release that grief with love.

Thanks, small messengers.

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