Sweet Honey from the Rock
In our backyard garden for the past couple of years, we have planted with intention for the bees. Sunflowers, butterfly plants, coneflower, calendula, borage, day lilies, lavender, squash blossoms and others are there for them--even as we enjoy the scents, colors and evens sometimes the flavors of the blooms. The year before last, when the sunflowers were particularly prolific, we saw at least four or five species of bees every day at the patch. They collected pollen, supped on nectar and the buzzing hover of their wings created a relaxing, summery song in that corner of the yard.
Another thing happened as well...perhaps because we had created such a favorable habitat, or that they were simple full-up and langurous. The bees would let us literally walk right up to them as they worked. We could stand inches from the flowers, amid a cloud of the insects, and they would simply buzz past us. Sometimes, they would even pause for a moment, alighting on a shirtsleeve or cap's brim. It was beautiful and awesome...all that activity, all that creation going on. And the result of that labor? Honey.
Honey is more than a sweetener, more than just food for bees, bears and humans (and anything else with the industry or thick skin to keep the stings at bay). It is the only food that doesn't spoil. It preserves, as well as provides flavor to food. Its color pleases the eye, its scent the palate. It can ONLY be obtained by humans when we are willing to live in partnership and covenant with bees, and thus it is a fine metaphor for talking about what Covenant looks like with God.
And what it looks like to break covenant with God, as well. Right now, pesticides and herbicides are wreaking havoc among hives around the world. The need for bees in some places is so great, and yet the environment in a mono-culture agri-system is so poor for sustaining colonies, that hives are trucked in during pollination season. If it weren't for that practice, there would be no almonds in the stores. None.
So when I read the passage today about God feeding those faithful to covenant with fine wheat and sweet honey from the rock, then I find myself reflecting on our time with the bees, and our willingness to be connected to, even living in submission to, systems that are bigger and more complex than our ego-driven wants and desires. Getting back into sync with God means getting back into sync with a life lived connected to both creation and the Divine, to live into the vital and life-fostering patterns that build up and create, over and against those that seek to manipulate and through control wind up destroying that which God has wrought.
Sweet honey from the rock...and us realizing we have a role in the greater economy of a creation formed by a God who knows the recipe for life and who keeps inviting us into participating in its ongoing expression.